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Week In Review

Another Week Ends: Social Poverty, A Lutheran Take on Chik-Fil-A, Jacobs on Propaganda, Some Occult Stuff, Faking Russian Lit, New Prince, and the Work/Life Conundrum

Another Week Ends: Social Poverty, A Lutheran Take on Chik-Fil-A, Jacobs on Propaganda, Some Occult Stuff, Faking Russian Lit, New Prince, and the Work/Life Conundrum

1. Looks like David Brooks this week is onto something again–his article on “The Blindness of Social Wealth” strikes gold. Increasingly, the defining pathology of our time is loneliness, a theme we’ve surveyed on mbird pretty extensively. Brooks makes the case sharply and succinctly:

Bob Hall was a rancher. In 1936, in the midst of the Depression, he was suffering from a cancer that was eating the flesh on the side of his face. His ranch had dwindled to nearly nothing, and weeks after bankers took the last of his livestock, Hall died, leaving his family deeply in debt.

His sons pleaded with…

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Another Week Ends: De-Konged, Earning Easter, Natural Causes, Deep Laziness and American Recordings

Another Week Ends: De-Konged, Earning Easter, Natural Causes, Deep Laziness and American Recordings

1. Not quite sure what to make of the fact that in the eleven or so years I’ve been writing on Mbird, I have never been forwarded a single news item more than this one. I suppose I should take it as a compliment, as Lord knows there are worst things to be associated with. But it’s true: the mighty have fallen–and they have fallen hard. We’re talking here about Billy Mitchell, erstwhile record holder on both Donkey Kong and Centipede, AKA he of the perfect Pac Man game. The fulfillment of all (arcade) righteousness has been shown to be…

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Another Week Ends: Jean Vanier, Amen Dunes, Father Freeman, Invisibilia, 1 Corinthians (Ortberg Translation), and A Flock of (Hotel) Seagulls

Another Week Ends: Jean Vanier, Amen Dunes, Father Freeman, Invisibilia, 1 Corinthians (Ortberg Translation), and A Flock of (Hotel) Seagulls

1. Stephen Freeman, at it again, this time translating the story of the rich man and the eye of the needle. Freeman offers that maybe we should read the pronouncement today as saying that it is impossible for the middle-class man to make it to heaven, not just the rich man. Freeman argues that whenever we read this little bit from the bible, we immediately sigh a sigh of relief that, praise be Him, we are not, like totally loaded, at least not like Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So that have a ton of extra cash and extra homes. Freeman says…

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Another Week Ends: French Police, Long Hours, Divine Pranks, Self-Aware Addicts, Oldham's Charms, and Wild Country

Another Week Ends: French Police, Long Hours, Divine Pranks, Self-Aware Addicts, Oldham’s Charms, and Wild Country

1. First, if you didn’t catch the headlines about French policeman Arnaud Beltrame, they’re tailormade for today, e.g., “French officer who swapped places with a hostage in terror attack dies.” The story is really something:

The Daily Mail ran an interview with the Catholic monk who gave Beltrame last rites and was in the midst of preparing the gendarme to be married. It would appear that faith was not a minor part of the fallen man’s life.

2. Elsewhere, Elizabeth Bruenig penned the brief yet moving “It Will Happen Again and Again” on the long hour that passes between Peter’s second and third…

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Another Week Ends: Self-Defeating Measurements, Neurotic Moralities, Self-Justifying Meritocracies, and Gospel-Centric Snoop Doggs

Another Week Ends: Self-Defeating Measurements, Neurotic Moralities, Self-Justifying Meritocracies, and Gospel-Centric Snoop Doggs

1. Over at the New York Times, Molly Worthen (of Apostles of Reason fame) wrote an interesting piece on the burgeoning learning-assessment industry. For those seeking to hone their “truthseeking” and “analyticity” (!!), teacher assessments aren’t enough; we need big data to tell us what we’re learning. Worthen’s skeptical:

Here is the second irony: Learning assessment has not spurred discussion of the deep structural problems that send so many students to college unprepared to succeed. Instead, it lets politicians and accreditors ignore these problems as long as bureaucratic mechanisms appear to be holding someone — usually a…

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Another Week Ends: The Book of Life, Tribal Culture, Seasonal Depression, A Wrinkle in Time, Sister Jean's Prayers, David Attenborough's Horror, and Mason Pryor's Second Chance

Another Week Ends: The Book of Life, Tribal Culture, Seasonal Depression, A Wrinkle in Time, Sister Jean’s Prayers, David Attenborough’s Horror, and Mason Pryor’s Second Chance

1. Let’s begin with a couple links to Alain de Botton’s (wellspring of a) website, The Book of Life. The first is about the importance of confession. A traditionally Christian practice, confession remains as necessary in 2018 as it ever was (ht JB):

…many of us feel like very bad people and have certainly done and thought some pretty odd things. But we are not, on that score, abnormal or beyond forgiveness, redemption and understanding. We are just operating with an overly narrow conception of normality and a desperately punitive idea of what is permissible… We need the opportunity to let another…

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Another Week Ends: Kevin Love, Self-Awareness, Addiction and Morality, Super Important Longreads, Fake News, and the City of God

Another Week Ends: Kevin Love, Self-Awareness, Addiction and Morality, Super Important Longreads, Fake News, and the City of God

1. Lots to talk about this week! First, a profound confessional from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love, in which he describes the life-changing experience of a panic attack (mid-game!) and the importance of asking for help. “Everyone Is Going Through Something”:

Growing up, you figure out really quickly how a boy is supposed to act. You learn what it takes to “be a man.” It’s like a playbook: Be strong. Don’t talk about your feelings. Get through it on your own… So for 29 years, I thought about mental health as someone else’s problem. Sure, I knew on some level that some…

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Another Week Ends: Mental Health (x4), Wreck It Ralph 2, Curling Cats!, David Chang, Marilynne Robinson and Billy Graham

Another Week Ends: Mental Health (x4), Wreck It Ralph 2, Curling Cats!, David Chang, Marilynne Robinson and Billy Graham

1. A lot of mental health features this week, and we’ll start with this one published by Vox, and written by Johann Hari, whose new book Lost Connections, delves into the problem of depression, and the limits of its modern prognoses, most of which are medical. Not at all wanting to dismiss the anti-depressant as a useful tool, Hari points out that the problem starts when the medicalization of depression clouds our understanding of underlying social and environmental factors.

Our focus on biology has led us to think of depression and anxiety as malfunctions in the individual’s brain or genes —…

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Another Week Ends: Remembering Billy Graham, Masculinity, The Midlife of Brendan Fraser, Arendt on Auden, Antisocial Churchsoundboardmen, Norwegian Grace, and (More) Technological Law

Another Week Ends: Remembering Billy Graham, Masculinity, The Midlife of Brendan Fraser, Arendt on Auden, Antisocial Churchsoundboardmen, Norwegian Grace, and (More) Technological Law

1. First up, Tullian Tchividjian posted a reflection on his remarkable grandfather, the late Billy Graham:

The last real conversation I had with him will forever live in my memory.

We were sitting in his bedroom. His body was frail, but his mind was still sharp. He talked to me about how hard it was to get old, how much he missed my grandmother (his wife of over 60 years who had died in June 2007), and how he had watched most of his closest friends die already. He expressed sorrow for a world that was still in dire need of the…

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Another Week Ends: Rebecca's Reformation, Mr Rogers' Pneumatology, Male Shame, New Love Languages, and Lenten Fasting Biohacks

Another Week Ends: Rebecca’s Reformation, Mr Rogers’ Pneumatology, Male Shame, New Love Languages, and Lenten Fasting Biohacks

Before we dive in, a quick reminder that next Friday and Saturday (2/23-24) we’ll be in Tyler, Texas for our fourth annual conference there! Speakers include John Zahl, John Newton, Charlotte Getz, Aaron Zimmerman, yours truly, and a bunch of others. Would love to see you – just be sure to register beforehand.

1. To begin, we couldn’t ask for a more wondrous February dispatch than Dante Stewart’s re-telling in Christianity Today of early African-American Christianity and “The Black Reformation of 1736”. At the heart of the piece lies the key question of why (and how) an enslaved population would not…

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Another Week Ends: Pyeongchang and Pardons, Parrothead Existentialism, Monopoly for Cheaters, Solitude vs. Loneliness, Aunt Lucy's Love, and More Recovery

Another Week Ends: Pyeongchang and Pardons, Parrothead Existentialism, Monopoly for Cheaters, Solitude vs. Loneliness, Aunt Lucy’s Love, and More Recovery

1. With the Olympics now underway in Pyeongchang, let’s begin with a powerful piece that looks back at the 1988 Games in Seoul and the deadly attempt, by the Kim Il Sung regime, to prevent them. 115 people were killed at the hands of elite agent, Kim Hyon-hui, a young woman who been “groomed” as a North Korean “warrior.”

Yet thirty years later, after her arrest and subsequent pardoning, she now lives a quite different life:

Kim’s life speaks to the disorienting contrasts on the Korean Peninsula, where the Olympics can be peaceful or deadly, unifying or dividing, and where a terrorist can…

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Another Week Ends: Minimizers, Teachers & Solvers, Super Bowl Winners & Self-Help Fixers, Unhappy Undergrads and Cradle Episcopalians

Another Week Ends: Minimizers, Teachers & Solvers, Super Bowl Winners & Self-Help Fixers, Unhappy Undergrads and Cradle Episcopalians

1. Kate Bowler’s new op-ed in the New York Times this week is one for the ages. Bowler, who we’ve written about before, was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer at 35, having just had a baby. She is also a professor at Duke Seminary, her research and first book on the history of the American Prosperity Gospel. In this op-ed she tackles the difficulty of conversations with someone like herself, how she represents the “Angel of Death” to most people, which prompts friends and family and acquaintances to awkwardly stumble around a difficult reality they spend much of their…

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