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Posts tagged "Failure"


At the Bottom of Your Vanilla Life

For me, this could not have come at a better time—the opportunity to sit down and read the newest publication by Chad Bird. Chad is a writer/speaker (and frequent Mockingbird contributor), and the book is the friendly-looking Upside-Down Spirituality: The 9 Essential Failures of a Faithful Life. What a title! Keep your eyes on this […]

The Failure of Best Intentions (Mark 14:27-31)

This timely excerpt is taken from Larry Parsley’s devotional, An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel: Meditations on Mark.  Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” (14:29–30) If you have read the gospels […]

Horsin’ Around in Weakness

This one was written by Blake Nail. The shower drain continued to back up even after numerous attempts to pull the mushy clumps of hair out of the black hole. Outside help would have been a wise decision, but I figured I could fix it myself. So I poured Drano down the drain’s hatch over […]

Failure

It is inevitable: some things sometimes do not work out. Who loves control more than an architect? I have been one of those for 40 years, with 800 things built. But we’ve started over 1,000. We, I, failed over 200 times to build what we were designing. Today, I lost the chance to work with […]

Sharks in the Water: In the Event of a Failure (on Good Friday)

I come from a pretty competitive family, so it should have been no surprise to find them enjoying the latest season of Shark Tank. Of this show’s many seductions (edge-of-your-seat deliberations, outlandish pitches—looking at you, Pinot Meow), the biggest hook may be the sense of judgment hovering in each episode. A trembling entrepreneur stands and pitches his or […]

Unshackle the Should: An Overlong Post on the Art of Failure (and the Failure of Art)

I had the honor of presenting earlier this week at “The Art of Failure” event here in Charlottesville, alongside Invisbilia co-host Lulu Miller and musician Devon Sproule. You can listen to all of the recordings on the Christ Church site, but here’s the modified/edited transcript, the first portion of which is adapted from A Mess […]

Book Review: Falling Into Grace by John Newton

Most of what lives on bookstore shelves marked “Christian” should actually be marked “Self Help with the Name Jesus Thrown In” (I’m looking at you, Osteen). But John Newton’s latest book, Falling Into Grace: Exploring Our Inner Life with God begins not with us climbing the corporate ladder to the Kingdom, but with us falling. In fact, […]

Five Golden…Themes! What We Loved Writing about in 2015

As we blanket our house with nic-nacs and expensive toys, it’s the perfect time to look back at the things that matter—or the things that mattered—or the things that at least we thought mattered at the time—to us this year. Here are Five Golden Themes for 2015—repeated stories and obsessions that didn’t just creep into […]

Failure in a Society that Celebrates Triumphalism

HONY

If you don’t know Humans of New York, it’s one of the few creative things worth following on Facebook. It is curated by a guy named Brandon who simply collects quotes and photos of the people he meets (mostly in New York City), posting them on his blog and social media. He has a huge following. I was struck by a recent post. It’s a down-to-earth presentation of a theology of the Cross versus one of glory:

“I’ve written so many stories and novellas that nobody will look at, plays that I can’t get produced, screenplays that will never be made. Everything is so branded these days in the art world, it’s so hard for an outsider to get work.”

“In what way would you consider yourself an ‘outsider?’”

I’m interested in failure, so those are the themes that I like to explore. But we live in a society that celebrates triumphalism. A society wants art that reaffirms itself. We want to read about characters that win.

“What was your lowest moment as an artist?”

“I worked on a screenplay for two years, and it had just been turned down by the fifth theater in a month, and I remember walking down 5th avenue in the middle of winter, tossing the pages one by one into the slush, vowing never to do it again. It was just a few blocks from here, actually.”

Failed Confessions of a Success-o-holic

We’re told that learning how to handle failure is an important part of growing up. Yet we do everything we can to make sure our kids never experience it. What did Samuel Beckett actually mean when he told us to “fail better”? And what does it have to do–if anything–with the theology of the cross? All this and (not) much more!

The Freedom to Fail Before a Benevolent King…or “Prince”

Yes, that’s Prince holding a scepter while watching Rafael Nadal play at the French Open this past weekend. Larry David rocked a cape in a Seinfeld episode, but it didn’t catch on. I’m not holding out hope for the scepter as a fashion accessory fad, but I’m kind of rooting for it. Best line in […]

The Difference Between Your Business Card and Your Mother

When it comes to articulating religious insights in secular terms, no one does it better than philosopher Alain de Botton, AKA he of Religion for Atheists fame. We’ve written about his rather Bultmannian genius before, but none of that prepared me for the TED talk he gave in 2009 about notions of success (and failure). Whereas elsewhere he mines Christian wisdom more generally, here he goes straight for law and grace, albeit in their aggressively lower-cased forms. The conclusion may naturally be a little fuzzy/abrupt–be sure to listen to the Q&A–the diagnosis is absolutely stunning. If you’re at all like me, you’ll be hooked from the first sentence, ht JD:

Speaking of de Botton, much to his credit, when asked by The New Statesman to select his favorite book of 2012, he went with the following:

This year, I was touched by Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense. As a non-Christian, indeed a committed atheist, I was worried about how I’d feel about this book but it pulled off a rare feat: making Christianity seem appealing to those who have no interest in ever being Christians. A number of Christian writers have over the past decade tried to write books defending their faith against the onslaughts of the new atheists – but they’ve generally failed. Spufford understands that the trick isn’t to try to convince the reader that Christianity is true but rather to show why it’s interesting, wise and sometimes consoling.

I can’t pass up the opportunity to link to Alan Jacobs’ rave review of the same liked-it-so-much-we-invited-the-author-to-speak-book, which just went live on the Books & Culture website.