1. “When Did God Become A Sports Fan?” over at CNN is an interesting look at the how’s and why’s of professional athletes invoking God in pursuit of victory (ht DG):

They are selling their goodness, and their brand of faith, to a captive audience, says [William J. Baker, author of Playing With God], who describes himself as a Christian. “I don’t think it’s the right place and it’s not the right gesture,” says Baker, a former high school quarterback. “It’s an athlete using a moment to sell a product, like soap.”

What many of these pious athletes are also selling is an evangelical, winner-take-all gospel, Baker says. “There are many similarities between the athletic and the evangelical take on life,” Baker says. “Both are competitive, capitalistic. It’s good guys versus bad guys. You have winners — people who are saved — and losers — people who are going to hell.”

Mike Sweeney, a devout Roman Catholic who plays baseball for the Seattle, Washington, Mariners, doesn’t accept that view of faith. “If I’m facing Andy Pettitte on the Yankees and I’m praying for a home run, and he’s praying for a strikeout, I don’t think the result is going to show who has greater faith,” Sweeney says. Sweeney says athletes can sometimes reveal more about their faith when they fail.

2. A sympathetic interview with writer Tullian Tchividjian over on Justin Taylor’s Gospel Coalition blog about his book Surprised By Grace. The whole interview is worth reading, even though the first question sort of says it all:

Is the gospel a middle ground between legalism and lawlessness?

“This seems to be a common misunderstanding in the church today. I hear people say that there are two equal dangers Christians must avoid: legalism and lawlessness. Legalism, they say, happens when you focus too much on law, or rules. Lawlessness, they say, happens when you focus too much on grace. Therefore, in order to maintain spiritual equilibrium, you have to balance law and grace. Legalism and lawlessness are typically presented as two ditches on either side of the Gospel that we must avoid. If you start getting too much law, you need to balance it with grace. Too much grace, you need to balance it with law. But I’ve come to believe that this “balanced” way of framing the issue can unwittingly keep us from really understanding the gospel of grace in all of its depth and beauty.”

3. Over at Slate, Tom Vanderbilt asks the question “Is It Possible To Design A Better Stop Sign?” First use or not, the situation seems to confirm some of our suspicions:

“Traffic engineers have long known that excessive signage declines in effectiveness. This points to something of a Catch-22. Residents of a neighborhood may complain about drivers speeding down their street and petition the city to install stop signs. But stop signs are not a safety device as such, nor a traffic-calming device: They exist to assign right of way. Faced with more stop signs, some studies have shown, drivers may actually drive faster to make up time lost for stopping at (or really, slowing through) the intersection; the more signs installed, the lower the compliance”.

4. Also over at Slate, a fascinating article about the 1964 book The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, detailing one (slightly deranged) psychologist’s attempt to get three mental patients who each thought they were Jesus in the same room.

5. More LOST wrap-up: The A/V Club’s Noel Murray gave “The End” an A-. Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly called it “Sweet, Fun, Christian.” While io9.com called it “The Ultimate Long Con.” Slate was also pretty negative. Personally, I was expecting to be a lot more disappointed and was pleasantly surprised by how religious it all was. Not blown away, but relieved. And glad that the characters got a dignified send-off. Elsewhere, the finale proved an occasion to evaluate the rise of serialized TV – which, let’s face it, has been one of the true saving graces of pop culture this past decade.

6. Finally, this marks my final “Another Week Ends” as a resident of New York City. Leaving the city of my birth is bittersweet; it has certainly been good to Mockingbird, and I have no doubt that it will continue to be so. And while perhaps William Styron had a point when he wrote to a friend of a friend of mine, “Why don’t you go south of the Potomac? There, at least, you can live the examined life. NYC is great place to hoot and holler in, but there comes a time when it can’t be taken seriously…”, there is plenty that we will miss, above all the many folks who have loved and supported us here these past three years – you know who you are. Thank you. [Don’t forget, faithful reader: nothing’s going to change for you.] Take it away, Eddie Holland:

Charlottesville, here we come!

P.S. A must-read interview over at The White Horse Inn with Cameron Cole talking about the upcoming Rooted: Theology for Student Ministry Conference. Register today!