Even with new books, new issues of the magazine, a growing contributor list, and a new podcast, we still miss law/gospel tidbits here and there.  While our social media connections send us links all the time, they deserve a special thanks for helping compile this list of stories we missed in 2015:

Zayn-Malik-Hair-Transformation10) While we kept up with most of 2015’s entertainment news, it just goes to show you how irrelevant we are for not mentioning Zayn Malik’s departure from boy band sensation One Direction. You probably know all about it if there’s a pre-teen girl in your life. After four years of global stardom, Zayn called it quits with the band last March. Here’s why according to an interview in Fader magazine:

Zayn has always had to navigate on someone else’s course, whether it’s regarding passionate fans or the way he expresses his [Muslim/Half-Pakistani] heritage. But nowhere did that bother him so much as with the actual music, the reason for all of this. Yet again, the rules weren’t up to him. “There was never any room for me to experiment creatively in the band,” he says. “If I would sing a hook or a verse slightly R&B, or slightly myself, it would always be recorded 50 times until there was a straight version that was pop, generic as [expletive], so they could use that version. Whenever I would suggest something, it was like it didn’t fit us. There was just a general conception that the management already had of what they want for the band, and I just wasn’t convinced with what we were selling. I wasn’t 100 percent behind the music. It wasn’t me. It was music that was already given to us, and we were told this is what is going to sell to these people. As much as we were the biggest, most famous boy band in the world, it felt weird. We were told to be happy about something that we weren’t happy about.

Fascinating. The command to be happy with the money and fame, garnered at the expense of artistic creativity, did not produce happiness with money and fame. In fact, that command to “be happy” may have broken up the greatest boy band since *NSYNC.


9) A major news story of interest for the past few years, the predatory practices of the for-profit Corinthian College group, are coming to a close. Student loans are no joke- there’s more money tied up in student loans than in credit card debt, and the cost of higher ed is only going up. So it was good to hear that many students who were targeted by dishonest marketing material from Corinthian group of colleges would be getting their debts forgiven. I like this depiction of forgiveness.  It acknowledges that the college has culpability for its dishonest statistics reporting and the students have culpability for signing up to legally take on that debt. So you either get law or gospel as a result: one must pay the piper, the other goes away forgiven.


8) It’s gonna take a lot more than a clever twitter bot to rid the site of its abuse and negativity, despite Coke’s best efforts. Their #MakeItHappy campaign from the Super Bowl was designed to take negative tweets and restructure them into happy ASCII photos. This well meaning campaign was derailed by gossip blog Gawker, who created a twitter bot to feed Coke’s twitter bot lines from Mein Kampf. I’m not sure who came out worst: Coke for not believing in original sin, Gawker for proving original sin, or humanity for having to put up with the whole episode.


7) In the pomp and drama of Oscar Season, there’s a familiar side-project that gets a few laughs every year called The Golden Raspberry. They’re the anti-academy awards, calling out the worst of the cinema industrial complex instead of recognizing the best. They’ve been around for 30 years and have become the “experts” in bad movies. In 2015, they announced a new special category of award, The Razzie Redeemer, which acknowledges a previous Razzie winner for making a good movie. The 2014 Razzie Redeemer was awarded to Ben Affleck, who made 2003’s awful film Giglie and 2014’s excellent films Argo and Gone Girl. It’s a great way of acknowledging how the judgments of award season – which is best, which is loved, which is the worst – are fleeting and generally ineffective. Now let’s hope Ben Affleck doesn’t get the reward revoked for his 2016 role as Batman.


6) Daily Fantasy Sports annoyed millions of TV spectators this year with the promise of lucrative payoffs. Is it a game of skill? Is it a game of chance? If the whole affair makes you feel icky, take heart: all you need to do is read some Nietzsche and study game theory to be competitive. If you’ve ever wondered where your muscle-bound frat college friend who excelled in stats courses wound up….


5) It’s so easy to throw shade at goop girl Gwyneth Paltrow and it’s almost worth giving her the pass over her food stamp fiasco of last April. But, in her unsuccessful attempt to live on $29 worth of groceries for a week, the lessons are too many to no acknowledge. The little-l-law of clean eating seems to be a privilege more than a possibility. Money and power do not necessarily equip a movie star to make social good, though certainly the ever-vague metric of “awareness” has been affected by the stunt. The failures here- of the less-fortunate to eat healthy and the super-fortunate to eat cheaply- are eyeopening. No good comes when sinners all mutually affected by a bound will point fingers at one another.


4) A doozy of an article from the San Francisco Weekly- “Psychic Capital: Tech and Silicon Valley turn to Mystics for Advice”  – which is just as wild and fun as you’d expect (via twitter, ht PV):

To quote an old Ukrainian proverb: “The devil always takes back his gifts” — so you’d better make bank while you can… That proverb could be San Francisco’s slogan. Ever since the Gold Rush a century and a half ago, the city has weathered legendary boom-and-bust cycles. The ’90s dot-com bubble was perhaps the climax of the Bay Area’s gaudy triumphalism, and its implosion 15 years ago still haunts San Francisco and Sand Hill Road… Doomsaying has become as unsatisfying a pastime as wondering when the drought will end.

Maybe it’s no surprise, then, that many tech workers in San Francisco turn to psychics for a glimpse of the future. Or that psychics, in turn, are rebranding themselves as spiritual therapists, executive coaches, and corporate counselors. The trend is common enough to be spoofed on HBO’s Silicon Valley, where the show’s fictional tech CEO confers with a spiritual guru. Meanwhile, real-life tech execs are increasingly candid about their spiritual hygiene: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff endorses yoga; LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner advocates mindful meditation; and the late Steve Jobs, a student of Buddhism, was mentored by a Zen priest.


3) Surprisingly, one of the most important dates in movie history slipped by our radar with narry a weekender mention. Did you bust out your old Hewey Lewis tapes and jam out on October 21st? Like 2001: A Space Odyssey before it, Back to the Future II’s golden birthday provided a potent opportunity to learn that foresight isn’t 20/20. No flying cars, no self-lacing shoes, and no (affordable) hoverboards. How sad! See also: The Technology Issue.

Untitled-122) If you ever need a quick rebut against the virtues empiricism, just ask “what color is this dress?”

1) Content Advisory for Fabulous Swearing. What do you get when Titus Andromedon from Kimmy Schmidt tastes Patti LaBell’s  Wal-Mart exclusive Sweet Potato Pies? One of 2015’s viral video wins, of course. The theologically profound moment comes as reviewer James takes his first bite: “oooooh YEAHEAHEAH! I’m turning into Patti LaBell after eating this.” The Eucharistic parallels are too obvi miss– becoming more like someone after eating their meal? A heart filled with strength and joy? Patti later invites James onstage to sing a few lines from Lady Marmalade at her show in NYC, a warm ending to a strange story only the internet can provide.

Grace and Peace in your 2016!