Dave gave me the opportunity to post an entry into the “Week Ends” franchise, so here are some things that have been sent directly to my instapaper.com account–enjoy! JDK

1: As we are want to say, something is rotten in the state of American Protestantism, and while one may take issue (and does) with his appreciation for Aquinas’ virtue ethics and the beard, this article by Stanley Hauerwas is a must read. An excerpt:

America is a synthesis of evangelical Protestantism, republican political ideology, and commonsense moral reasoning. Americans were able to synthesize these antithetical traditions by making their faith in God indistinguishable from their loyalty to a country that assured them that they had the right to choose which god they would or would not believe in. That is why Dietrich Bonhoeffer acutely characterized America Protestantism as “Protestantism without Reformation.” American Protestants do not have to believe in God because they believe in belief. That is why we have never been able to produce interesting atheists in America. The god most Americans say they believe in just is not interesting enough to deny. Thus the only kind of atheism that counts in America is to call into question the proposition that everyone has a right to life, liberty, and happiness.

2. An interesting article in CT entitled Is Cosmetic Surgery Immoral points out the complexities of this issue and offers insight into the need for pastors to be theologians–theology, of course, being the art of distinguishing law and gospel:

A pastor friend of mine once told me, “The Lutheran answer to every question is, ‘Why do you want to know?'” A question about the morality of abortion will be handled differently based on whether the person asking is a post-abortive woman seeking forgiveness, a pregnant woman facing a crisis pregnancy and considering abortion, or a curious youth who’s simply seeking instruction. The answer doesn’t change, but the way we address the issue does.

3. Even though this season of American Idol is painful, and (if you’re like me) you are starting to worry that the writers of Lost are running out of time to come to anything resembling a satisfactory end, there is hope on the horizon in Southpark, Breaking Bad and ANTM. In the season 14 opener Sexual Healing, Southpark seems to have returned from a forgetful run of non-insightful shockingly crude humor to its signature: insightful shockingly crude humor. Their anthropology would make Matthias Flacius blush:); Breaking Bad, everyone’s favorite nice-guy-with-terminal-cancer-turned-homicidal-meth-dealer, returns on AMC; and ANTM has also returned from a stint as “Tyra’s afterschool special,” and has regained its former (ahem) glory. Couch potatoes, take heart!

4. One of the clearest arenas for observing the Law at work is in the area of “gender identity.” Nothing illustrates slavery to the Law like having to play the “Male/Female Stereotype Card.” Men are from Venus today, but look out, Pluto is no longer even a planet. Like everything Law-based, this inherent instability and lack of assurance produces, as Luther was famous for arguing, anxiety or despair. This despair surrounding current ideas of masculinity can be seen in an article entitled “Omega Males and the Women who Hate Them,” a reflection on Noah Baumbach’s new movie Greenberg. And in a Guardian.co.uk article entitled “How the ‘New Feminism’ went wrong,” Charlotte Raven examines the crushing weight of modern anxious womanhood. I don’t know what Tammy Wynette was going on about, sometimes it’s hard being a person.

This week, we mourn the deaths of Peter Graves and Corey Haim. Although most famous for his TV work on Mission Impossible, he was one of my heroes because of his role in Airplane! For all of us who were prematurely introduced to the comedic goldmine that is a Turkish Prison, Peter Graves will be missed.

Recently, we also saw the tragic death of another child actor, Corey Haim. Alluding to the touching Oscar tribute to John Hughes, in License to Cry, Stephen Zeitchik of the LATimes writes a heartfelt piece on the role these actors played in many of our lives.
It’s eerie that the actor’s death came just three days after
we were reminded of that period, not only of American pop culture but of our own lives, via the tribute to John Hughes at the Oscars. With roles like Ferris Bueller and John Bender, and in the lives of Molly Ringwald and Corey Haim, we first learned about a larger world even as it seemed these people were speaking directly to us. Most of us who grew up in that world of the 1980s indeed won’t forget about them, not because their legend was that shiny, their mark that indelible or their work even that great, but because our affection for them was once so uncomplicated.

6. Lastly, something totally awesome: The McLaren MP4-12C