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Week In Review

Another Week Ends: More Declining Humanities, You Shall Know Them by Their Google-Searches, Some Simone Weil, Garrison Keillor Goes to Church, the New Male (?) Self-Improvement, and Social-Media Shaming

Another Week Ends: More Declining Humanities, You Shall Know Them by Their Google-Searches, Some Simone Weil, Garrison Keillor Goes to Church, the New Male (?) Self-Improvement, and Social-Media Shaming

1. First up, education. Ross Douthat at the NYT this week wrote a thoughtful appeal for the humanities, which are in serious decline. At the top thirty colleges (according to the formidable US News rankings), the proportion of humanities majors has fallen from about a third in the early 2000s to around a fifth today. In glossing this change, Douthat lays much of the blame at the door of “technocratic ambition.” For the technocrats, the goal of education is technical mastery, whereby one learns how to better control and make use of the world. Education is no longer about humanism–which we’ll…

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Another Week Ends: Saving MS-13, Church of Pod, Responsibilityland, Present Bias, Creative Hiatuses and Cheap Trick

Another Week Ends: Saving MS-13, Church of Pod, Responsibilityland, Present Bias, Creative Hiatuses and Cheap Trick

1. First up has got to be the video below, in which The Guardian(!) casts a light on some truly miraculous conversions happening in El Salvador at present. I forget who said that where sin remains theoretical, so does redemption, but whoever they were, this video illustrates the inverse truth beautifully. PTL:

2. “Humans seem to be wired to seek salvation,” writes Molly Worthen in her new column for The NY Times, which profiles “The Podcast Bros Who Want to Optimize Your Life.” While I could do without the increasingly broad/acceptable (and mighty convenient) pejorative of “bro”, she does a great…

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Another Week Ends: Summertime Blues, Aspirational Suffering, Sacrilegious Dumplings, Eternal Stakes, and Average Grades

Another Week Ends: Summertime Blues, Aspirational Suffering, Sacrilegious Dumplings, Eternal Stakes, and Average Grades

1. This week let’s start with a beautiful, seasonal reflection from B.D. McClay at Commonweal. Relentless summer heat inspires this moving commentary on the tension between absence and presence, eternity and finitude, the ever-presence of God and man’s inability to comprehend that presence. It’s called “Summer Blues: Anticipating Eternity”:

What would it be like if I could see every moment as a gift, supplied with everything that it needed, sufficient unto itself? Not worrying it would go away, not cultivating indifference, but simply accepting the moment and God’s presence in that moment, even in the summer? Would that even be possible?

…Could…

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All the Pods That Are Fit to Cast

No fresh Mockingcast this week, as the hosts have all been on vacation, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to run down what else we’ve got on offer, audio-wise, and where you can listen/subscribe. Also, the more reviews we have on iTunes, the more visibility those casts get, so if you haven’t had a chance to post one, go for it! The links are below.

The Mockingcast

A bi-weekly roundtable on culture, faith and grace, co-hosted by RJ Heijmen, Sarah Condon and David Zahl.

Listen/Subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play or Stitcher

 

 

mockingpulpit

The Mockingpulpit

Sermons and talks from the voices associated with Mockingbird, singing that “same song” of God’s grace in different keys, week after week.

Listen/Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play

PZ_podcast

PZ’s Podcast

Grace-based impressions and outré correlations from the author of Grace in Practice, Paul F.M. Zahl. [Note: two fresh episodes have gone up since we last posted a blurb, “252: Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life” and “253: Facing the Cannons (NOT!)”]

Listen/Subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play or Stitcher

 

Talkingbird

Your destination for talks given at our events, both present and past. Subjects run the gamut from religion and theology to psychology and literature to pop culture and relationships and everything in between. Humor and grace abound. Selected talks from our archives go up every two weeks in between events.

Subscribe on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher

 

Fresh on Talkingbird as of this past weekend are both David Zahl’s talk from the Ordinary event in CA last month (“Nobody’s Somebody or Somebody’s Nobody’s”) and Jady Koch’s masterful presentation on “Law, Gospel and Guns N Roses: How the English Reformation Is Still Speaking Today” that he gave at Concordia Seminary this past Fall as part of their symposium on “The Just Shall Live by Faith: The Reformation Word for Life Then and Now.” You can watch the video below.

Another Week Ends: Startup Churches, Effortless Perfectionists, Food Tribes, Behavioral Economists, and Weak Men

Another Week Ends: Startup Churches, Effortless Perfectionists, Food Tribes, Behavioral Economists, and Weak Men

1. What says entrepreneurship like the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church? The subject of this season of Start Up, the popular podcast from the guys at Gimlet Media, is “church planting,” specifically one church plant in Philadelphia, its lead pastor, and the difficulties of getting such a church to self-sufficiency in a certain amount of time, both organizationally and personally. And while the potential for ridicule is rife with such a context, so far, the first three episodes have been wildly sympathetic to the cause, even compassionate to “the call” which drove it. This week’s episode in particular explores…

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Another Week Ends: Forgiving Kings, Forgiving Narcissists, Polite Smart Speakers, Religious Parties, and the Saddest Croatian

Another Week Ends: Forgiving Kings, Forgiving Narcissists, Polite Smart Speakers, Religious Parties, and the Saddest Croatian

1. They say never talk religion and politics, so let’s increase the trespass and start our time this week with a discussion of religion and politics. Michele Margolis is a U Penn political science professor who specializes in the link between faith and government. She makes the case that we’ve got the chicken and egg backwards when it comes to the question of denomination and party choice:

Most Americans choose a political party before choosing whether to join a religious community or how often to attend religious services…

In 1965, M. Kent Jennings and Richard Niemi conducted a…

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Another Week Ends: Washed, Teshuvah, Soul Salons, Medieval Peasants, Cranach and Sammy Hagar

Another Week Ends: Washed, Teshuvah, Soul Salons, Medieval Peasants, Cranach and Sammy Hagar

1. This first one hit close to home. I’m referring to Zach Baron’s column in GQ, In Praise of Being Washed. Not washed out, or washed in the blood of the lamb, but simply “washed”. To be “washed,” he tells us, is to have arrived at the point in life where horizons have begun to recede, where your best is behind you but you’re still far from ready to throw in the towel–basically a fresh euphemism for what we used to call “over the hill.” But what sounds like a putdown at best, and a verdict to struggle against with…

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Another Week Ends: Death Cafés, Eighth Grade, Basement Revolver, Sterile Style, Church Planting, and the Meekness of God

Another Week Ends: Death Cafés, Eighth Grade, Basement Revolver, Sterile Style, Church Planting, and the Meekness of God

1. Lots to consider from this week’s first link: “The Positive Death Movement Comes to Life,” by John Leland for the Times (ht SZ). All told, this article is partly amazing, partly ridiculous.

First, the amazing. “Death is having a moment,” the subtitle says. This is good news in the context of modernity’s widespread denial of death. We so fear death that we pretend it doesn’t exist. Says one interviewee: “We got so far removed from death even being an option.”

Now, in small pockets here and there, certain people—mostly women—are beginning to question the denial of this undeniable reality. Why don’t we…

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Another Week Ends: First Reformed, Millennial Gray, Self-Improvement B.S., Getting Back On the Bike (and Off Again), and World Cup Generosity

Another Week Ends: First Reformed, Millennial Gray, Self-Improvement B.S., Getting Back On the Bike (and Off Again), and World Cup Generosity

1. A new book out by Will Storr looks at the history of the self-esteem, and its rapid growth in the technological age. Storr’s book, Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing to Us, focuses much of its history on the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA, and places like it, which flourished in the 70s alongside the Human Potential Movement, and went mainstream in the 80s and 90s, focused on the real benefits stemming from a positive self-image. Storr uncovers the origin story of this movement, and its less-than-credible correlations between well-being and a…

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Another Week Ends: Nigerian Babies, Pairing Alzheimer's, Lonely Affluence, Competitive Meditation and New Spiritualized

Another Week Ends: Nigerian Babies, Pairing Alzheimer’s, Lonely Affluence, Competitive Meditation and New Spiritualized

1. At the top of the docket, two beautiful and deeply encouraging examples of grace in practice, the first programmatic and the second person-to-person. Nigeria, as you may know, currently suffers from the highest rate of HIV-positive infants in the world. Apparently many of the transmission prevention methods that work elsewhere have had a hard time catching on there, partly because so many mothers aren’t aware they’re infected (and understandably reticent to get tested, partially out of fear, partially out of shame). Instead of sounding the alarm bells more loudly, a new program called Baby Shower–developed in the church(!)–has taken…

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Another Week Ends: Prophetic Marshmallows, Honest Obituaries, Psychopathic AI, A Game for Good Christians, and the Bruised Face of Forgiveness

Another Week Ends: Prophetic Marshmallows, Honest Obituaries, Psychopathic AI, A Game for Good Christians, and the Bruised Face of Forgiveness

1. This week, a social science story takes the lede. New research out of NYU and UC Irvine is casting real doubt on the hallowed Stanford Marshmallow experiment, a study long used to tout the virtues of delayed gratification, patience, and self-control:

The marshmallow test is one of the most famous pieces of social-science research: Put a marshmallow in front of a child, tell her that she can have a second one if she can go 15 minutes without eating the first one, and then leave the room. Whether she’s patient enough to double her payout is supposedly indicative of a…

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Another Week Ends: Theistic 'Nones', Fleming on Faith, Ideological Is-es and Oughts, Urban Kenosis, and the New Meritocratic Aristocracy

Another Week Ends: Theistic ‘Nones’, Fleming on Faith, Ideological Is-es and Oughts, Urban Kenosis, and the New Meritocratic Aristocracy

1. First up, Pew released the results of a recent survey on a religious beliefs, glossed this week by The Atlantic:

The third finding reported in the study is by far the most striking. As it turns out, “American ‘nones’ are as religious as—or even more religious than—Christians in several European countries, including France, Germany, and the U.K.”

“That was a surprise,” Neha Sahgal, the lead researcher on the study, told me. “That’s the comparison that’s fascinating to me.” She highlighted the fact that whereas only 23 percent of European Christians say they believe in God with absolute certainty, 27 percent of American nones say this. ….

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