1. In a sea of inter-religious conflict and division, how beautiful it is to catch a glimpse of the opposite. Apparently a group of Muslims has raised close to $100K to help rebuild the black churches that were burned in the recent rash of arson. Amen to that, ht BB.

2. “I Still Love Kierkegaard” is the title of a wonderful article by Julian Baggini that appeared on Aeon. Favorite sections are the ones dealing with Soren’s Christianity:

simulmemeWhat Kierkegaard showed was that the only serious alternative to atheism or agnosticism was not what generally passes for religion but a much deeper commitment that left ordinary standards of proof and evidence completely behind. Perhaps that’s why so many of Kierkegaard’s present-day admirers are atheists. He was a Christian who nonetheless despised ‘Christendom’. To be a Christian was to stake one’s life on the absurdity of the risen Christ, to commit to an ethical standard no human can reach. This is a constant and in some ways hopeless effort at perpetually becoming what you can never fully be. Nothing could be more different from the conventional view of what being a Christian means: being born and baptised into a religion, dutifully going to Church and partaking in the sacraments. Institutionalised Christianity is an oxymoron, given that the Jesus of the Gospels spent so much time criticising the clerics of his day and never established any alternative structures. Kierkegaard showed that taking religion seriously is compatible with being against religion in almost all its actual forms, something that present-day atheists and believers should note.

For Kierkegaard, irony was the means by which we could engage in serious self-examination without hubris or arrogance: ‘what doubt is to science, irony is to personal life’. Today, irony is a way of avoiding serious self-examination by believing one is above such things, a form of superiority masquerading as modesty.

3. Maria Konnikova’s series on sleep for The New Yorker contains some pertinent factoids about the sorry state of rest in America today. Probably comes as no surprise that the data is ultimately phrased in terms of productivity. Can’t make this stuff up:

CJjHKi1VAAAwXzCAccording to Charles Czeisler, the chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, over the past five decades our average sleep duration on work nights has decreased by an hour and a half, down from eight and a half to just under seven. Thirty-one per cent of us sleep fewer than six hours a night, and sixty-nine per cent report insufficient sleep. When Lisa Matricciani, a sleep researcher at the University of South Australia, looked at available sleep data for children from 1905 to 2008, she found that they’d lost nearly a minute of sleep a year. It’s not just a trend for the adult world. We are, as a population, sleeping less now than we ever have…

When we try to boost productivity by expanding our waking hours, we aren’t doing anyone any favors. We lose more by skimping on rest than we can ever gain back by adding a few hours to our days. We are less productive, less insightful, less happy, more likely to get sick. And we have no idea just how much we’ve compromised our abilities and health in the process: ask most anyone and they will tell you they do just fine with five, six hours. We systematically undervalue sleep, and yet it is fundamental to our present and future performance.

4. On a related note, a few months ago we lamented (and marveled at) the cult of productivity’s co-opting of mindfulness meditation, i.e. how corporate America has turned passivity into its favorite means to activity. This week, timed perhaps to coincide with the rather icky New Yorker piece about the Headspace app, Salon went so far as to call the current craze a “capitalist grift”:

Strip away all the fuzzy wuzzy, and one glaring fact stands out about mindfulness’s proliferation across the corporate world: At the end of the day, the name of the game is increased productivity. In other words, the practice has become a capitalist tool for squeezing even more work out of an already overworked workforce. Buddhism’s anti-materialist ethos seems in direct odds with this application of one of its key practices, even if it has been divorced from its Zen roots. In an article about “McMindfulness,” the pejorative term indicting the commodified, secularized, corporatized version of the meditative practice, David Loy states “[m]indfulness training has wide appeal because it has become a trendy method for subduing employee unrest, promoting a tacit acceptance of the status quo, and as an instrumental tool for keeping attention focused on institutional goals.”

Couldn’t ask for a more perfect lead-in to the long-read of the week, George Anderson’s beautiful “True Eccentricity” for The Curator.

5. In humor, this is really funny/painful for those in the know: “10 Social Media Posts Only the Best Pastors Send”. Number three hits particularly close to home. Ooof. Also, The Onion really bared their claws this week with “Parents Dedicate New College Safe Space In Honor Of Daughter Who Felt Weird In Class Once.”

6. Half in the humor category, half in the identity one, The NY Times covered the emerging trend among America’s ever-flailing male urbanites of carrying pocket knives, which they see as a natural extension of the beard and work boot thing. You can almost hear the amusement in the reporter’s voice, ht SC:

Bernard Capulong, [co-founder and editor in chief of everdaycarry.com], said a pocketknife conveys ruggedness and lone-wolf competence in a society that is increasingly tech-centric and interconnected. “There’s an aspect of masculinity and machismo,” said Mr. Capulong, who carries a pocketknife himself. “You can do everything on your own and you’re not helpless.”…

The modern man tends to wield his blade differently than his forefathers did. Ben Brooks, 32, who works at a software company and lives near Seattle, recalled that his grandfather used a pocketknife to cut fishing line. Mr. Brooks finds that his comes in handy for felling Amazon orders.

7. On the opposite side of the gender equation, Wednesday Martin published a short reflection on The Atlantic about how “The Captivity of Motherhood” hasn’t diminished so much as transformed over the past few decades. Nothing too groundbreaking, more a helpful articulation of the way little-l laws have shifted:

The shift in language—from housewife to Stay At Home Mom—suggests that where running a household was once a vocation, now motherhood is. And while the latter may seem “more important”—children are the future of our country and our entire world, after all, whereas a house is just a house—the social status of the woman who doesn’t work, despite our noisy insistence that “motherhood is the toughest job” and so on, has arguably never been lower.

8. In music, J.R. Daniel Kirk treated us to an awesome post on The Gospel According to the Mountain Goats. Wilco dropped a surprise album on us yesterday, Star Wars, and it’s free. So is Derek Webb’s Mockingbird, over at Noisetrade. That record just turned 10 years old, believe it or not, and comes highly recommended, duh. Jason Isbell’s newest is still sinking in, but man, the O’Connor-ish chorus of “24 Frames” (embedded above) warrants a mention: “You thought that God was architect/ But now you know / He’s something like a pipe-bomb/ ready to blow”.

9. In TV, despite True Detective‘s disappointing second season (thus far), it’s proving to be a surprisingly top-notch summer. The Jim Gaffigan Show premiere this week was fantabulous–solid church jokes abound–and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell continues to rock my socks. Hannibal is finally hitting its stride, and Wayward Pines has kept the schlocky fun coming. I checked out a while ago, but the Daily Beast’s overview of “How ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Found God” was (almost) enough to reignite some interest in that show. Also, God bless Paul Rudd. The boy dunitagin:


– Social Science Study of the Week is definitely Science of Us’ “Emotional Attachment to Political Parties Seems to Make People More Knee-Jerk in Their Beliefs“.
– Eve Tushnet’s dissenting take on Inside Out is definitely compelling.
– This is cool: Mbird’s Lauren Larkin just launched a new podcast (and site) called Ezer Uncaged with Sarah Taras. Lauren describes it as “geared toward proclaiming the gospel and applying it’s message of freedom to womanhood and gender relations.” You can subscribe here. For more info, go here.
– Those missing Liberate might do well to check out Christ Hold Fast, where a number of the former contributors have landed. And those still processing what happened might do well to take a look at Steve Brown’s post on the subject from earlier this week.
– Going to hold off on commenting on Go Set A Watchman until I/we have actually read it. Would love to hear what you thought of it.