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Confirmation Bias and the Wisdom of Humility

“The Sigh of the Oppressed Creature, the Heart of a Heartless World”

“You Meant It for Evil”: The Gift of Unintended Consequences

The Conservative Disposition and God’s Unstoppable Plan

Salvation by Transaction: On Institutional Decline

Transaction Man, the new book from Nicholas Lemann, details the recent history of big ideas, the “master organizing principles for society.” Heady at first blush, the book becomes a keen survey of anthropology and how actual people live and work. Lemann employs “Transaction Man” as a catchall denoting some or all of the following: someone […]

From The Atlantic: Are McMansions Making People Any Happier?

Apple’s magazine and news service, Apple News+, served me up another parable of the little-L law from the Atlantic last week as I perused my News app. It’s a classic, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses type report about how we Americans are building bigger homes than everand yet our happiness tends to be inversely proportionate to the square footage of our new real estate. As usual, the dynamics of comparison, judgment, and self-salvation (AKA self-justification) are at play. A couple of takeaway quotes (emphasis mine):

To be clear, having more space does generally lead to people saying they’re more pleased with their home. The problem is that the satisfaction often doesn’t last if even bigger homes pop up nearby. “If I bought a house to feel like I’m ‘the king of my neighborhood,’ but a new king arises, it makes me feel very bad about my house,” Bellet wrote to me in an email. […]

Bellet sketches out an unfulfilling cycle of one-upmanship, in which the owners of the biggest homes are most satisfied if their home remains among the biggest, and those who rank right below them grow less satisfied as their dwelling looks ever more measly by comparison.

A Free Lunch: The Spiritual Economics of the Church’s Most Cliché Ministry

Another taste of our recent issue on Food & Drink! Order your copy here!  The soup kitchen at my church is currently in the midst of a cold war among its volunteers. On one side we have the pro-oil-and-vinegar contingency, armed with organic produce and health concerns; on the other side, the crusaders of ranch dressing […]

“I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”…and That’s a Good Thing

This one comes to us from SM White. I can’t get no satisfaction…I try and I try and I try and I try…When I’m watchin’ my TV and a man comes on and tells me how white my shirts can be. But he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as […]

Forgiveness Is Greece’s (and Germany’s) Only Hope

Central to Christianity is the notion that, at the end of the day, forgiveness is humanity’s only hope. Not performance, or improvement, or willpower, or wishful thinking, but absolution – “nothing but the blood of Jesus,” as the old hymn goes. Apparently, this idea holds in financial markets as well, or so a piece in […]

Grace Is Play: Our Magazine Interview with Nimi Wariboko

Another free look at our Work and Play Issue. Take our word for it, though…it’s better in print!  One of the great theological books we discovered last year was Nimi Wariboko’s The Pentecostal Principle, a book which unpacks how the Holy Spirit creates the capacity for new beginnings in human life and communities. He views […]

Demanding Answers: The Rise of the Economist

The New York Times dropped a fairly juicy opinion a while back from economist Justin Wolfers about the rise of economists in culture analysis and policy making. It does seem like economists are increasing in social prominence, and as Wolfers mentions, they’re ascending at a quicker pace than the rest of the social sciences. At least, that’s what the […]

When A Measure Becomes a Target

We are now just a couple weeks out from the release of Issue Two of The Mockingbird. It is the Identity Issue, and you won’t believe what all it has to say about, well, you. If you’re not subscribed yet, subscribe here. In anticipation for the release, we’ll continue posting a selection of pieces from […]

A “Love Affair With Lock and Key”: Reflections on Criminal Justice

In September of this year, we missed an interesting article over at the The Guardian profiling the then-governor of Bastoy Prison, one of the most successful prisons in the world, located in Norway. ‘Success’ immediately raises the question of what success looks like, and we could say there are two major approaches to this term: the […]

Anxious About Grace: Some Thoughts on Max Weber

Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) has been immensely influential, with the “Weber thesis” being one of the most well-known Interesting Ideas around.  The idea, basically, is that Protestantism, especially in Calvinist and Wesleyan and Baptist and ‘Pietistic’ forms, has been a major contributor to the ‘Spirit’ behind capitalism. But […]