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Posts tagged "Seculosity"


Another Week Ends: The Space Race (and Grace), Professional Christian Burnout, Screen Addictions and Abstinence, Truth and Martyrdom, the Holies of Hollywood, and the Modern Leper

1. Appropriately timed for tomorrow’s 50th anniversary of the moon landing, our first link this week is “First Men and Original Sins,” from the latest issue of Image (ht EKR). British sci-fi novelist Adam Roberts asks to what extent a religious impulse was involved in the space race as well as in the subsequent rise […]

Another Week Ends: Decision Fatigue, Millennial Astrologists, an Inmate from Greenwich, the Phantom of Winnipeg, and the American Dream Value Menu

1. Headlining this week is a story from Vanity Fair about Chip Skowron, a hedge fund manager in Greenwich, CT who was indicted for insider trading and found himself facing prison time. What comes next is a story of grace if I’ve ever seen one, and one that continues to bear fruit (ht CB).  Like […]

Seculosity and St. Paul

David Zahl didn’t put me up to this, I swear. But if the Apostle Paul were alive today, I dare say he would have written Seculosity. Let me explain. The secular world in which we live now wouldn’t have been imaginable to the Apostle Paul. In the first century, everything one did was connected to […]

If I Can Just Understand the Arrival Fallacy, I’ll Be Happy

The latest ‘gimme’ from the world of social science has, er, arrived. I’m referring to the Arrival Fallacy, “the illusion that once we make it, once we attain our goal or reach our destination, we will reach lasting happiness.” Earlier this week The NY Times devoted a whole column to this familiar dynamic, A.C. Shilton’s […]

Confession of a Dieting Supremacist (*in June)

A short, timely excerpt from Seculosity, which turned two months old over the weekend! Scroll down for info about the final dates in the book tour. This is taken from chapter 7:

When I was in middle school, my grandmother sat me down and told me that unlike my two brothers, I would have to watch what I ate as I got older. I don’t know what tipped her off, whether it was my husky build or awful snacking habits, but she wanted me to know that if I didn’t pay attention to what I ate, I could develop a problem, the one known as–[whispering]–fatness.

She was frank, but she was right. The truth is, I’ve always looked to food for comfort, especially during times of stress. Ben and Jerry’s, not Budweiser, is my preferred method of self-medication.

And so, every June of adulthood, I’ve undertaken a month-long “reduction” in which I cut out desserts and carbs and late-night nibbles. For men my age, the pounds fall off with relatively little effort and old pants soon begin to fit again. Affirmation starts to flow my way in the form of unsolicited comments (which my inner lawyer immediately flips into condemnation, i.e., “had I really gotten so heavy?”). I start to feel a bit better, both physiologically and emotionally. Your body thanks you, as they say. The social rewards can be pretty noticeable, too, even for a guy. No more pizza-neck!

Yet the downsides are not negligible. For thirty days it’s tunnel vision all the way, as I place my needs and plans above those of my wife, kids, and coworkers. I can’t seem to do it any other way. All to avoid the accusation of F-A-T, aka the worst F-word in the English language.

The self-centeredness pales in comparison to the self-righteousness. The moment I step on the scale and it registers less is the moment I reproach both my past self for being lazy and others for their failure to be as disciplined as I am. I become what journalist Joyce Wadler calls a “Dieting Supremacist” or we might call a Food Pharisee, forgetting the many factors that contributed to my weight loss, as well as the inconvenient fact that I gained it all back the last time. Instead I craft a narrative about self-determination and effort and performance. A testimony, if you will.

The swiftness of this change in attitude, and the size of the feelings involved, reveals just how much I lean on my relationship to food (and by extension, body image) for self-esteem and justification. Still, given the choice between being a self-aggrandizing performancist who can fit into his clothes and a self-loathing performancist who can’t, I choose the former. Neither is what we might call spiritually healthy, but the latter at least reinforces need rather than self-sufficiency.

Last leg of the Seculosity Tour kicks off later this month! Those dates, plus a couple Fall add-ons, are:

  • June 19, 2019: Jacksonville, FL (Church of our Savior @ 6pm) – This is a ticketed event, with dinner provided. Click here to reserve your spot today!
  • June 20, 2019: Winter Park, FL (Winter Park Country Club, WP 9 @ 6:30pm)
  • June 21, 2019: Orange County, CA (WeWork 200 Spectrum Center Drive, Suite 200, Irvine CA @ 6:30-9pm) – This is a ticketed event. Click here to reserve your spot today!
  • June 22, 2019: Los Angeles, CA (The Zank’s 1101 Hartzell St, Pacific Palisades CA 90272 @ 3:30-5:30pm) – totally free, but please rsvp to info@mbird.com
  • August 28, 2019: Wenowah, NJ (Holy Trinity Episcopal Church @ TBA)
  • October 13, 2019: Charlotte, NC (Christ Church Charlotte @ TBA)

p.s. If you haven’t posted a review on Amazon yet (even a single line!), gosh it would be appreciated. Thanks!

Another Week Ends: Breakfast of Lutherans, Celebrity Prayer Candles, Junkyard Playgrounds, All the Correct Opinions, and the X-Men Family

1. On this week’s Killing Eve, the morally obscure mastermind Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw) refused to eat breakfast, instead pulling from a water pipe and saying, “I can’t stand breakfast. It’s just constant eggs. Why? Who decided?” The woman has a point. Whether yogurt, cereal, waffles, or bacon, our breakfast items of choice reveal greater […]

2019 NYC Conference Book Table

Many thanks to all who attended and helped pull off the 12th annual Mockingbird conference in NYC! For all who couldn’t make it, and also those who could, each year we like to put together a virtual book table, with the various recommended readings and resources written by our speakers and guests. (Last week we […]

Another Week Ends: Recovering Small Groups, the Problem with Happiness, Metrics of Judgment, Masculine #Seculosity, Love at L’Arche, and 20 Years of “All Star”

1. In the first slot this week, Christianity Today published Kent Dunnington’s reflections on small groups and AA: Small Groups Anonymous: Why the best church small groups might take their cues from the Twelve Steps. An in-depth look at how AA works and why most small groups fail to transform character and practice, Dunnington’s piece […]

Adam Sandler Narrates the #Seculosity of Travel

Hilarious skit from this past weekend’s Saturday Night Live, in which the once and future Bobby Boucher warns us of what a father figure of mine terms “the geographic (non-)solution.” Funny funny funny:

Oh and the Seculosity Tour isn’t over yet! I’ll be in Atlanta this Friday and then Nashville next Saturday. Here are the specifics – hope you can come out:

  • May 10, 2019: Atlanta, GA (The Heck’s House 1869 Volberg St NW, Atlanta GA 30318 @ 7:30pm) – No need to RSVP, just show up!
  • May 18, 2019: Nashville, TN (Parnassus Books @ 2:00pm)
  • May 18, 2019: Nashville, TN (St Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church @ 5:30pm)

P.S. A certain multi-national conglomerate just knocked another 10% off the price, which means you can now get copies at nearly 40% off! No idea how long this will last, just be sure to leave a review when you get a chance. Pretty please?

Another Week Ends: The Seculosity of…Work, Pop Culture, Boutique Ice Cream, Even Doing Nothing At All, and the Perils of YEEZter

1. Perhaps it was fated that, as the Seculosity Train pulled into our hometown of Charlottesville, VA, for the book launch, there would be a whole host of articles detailing its newest incarnations. The Seculosity of Work, of Ice Cream, of Kanye, of Happiness, the list goes on. First off, here’s one from The New […]

The Human Is Very Important Right Now

At the soup kitchen where I accidentally volunteered for a couple of years, the following exchange happened more than once. Observing the guests at plastic fold-up tables, a volunteer would whisper what we’d all at some point wondered. “How do they afford it? Who pays for these phones?” Ostensibly low-income, possibly homeless, the guests were […]

Another Week Ends: Good Friday, a Grand Miracle, Boomers’ Death Boom, Lazarus Is Dead, Meritocracy, Performance, [chill / lofi / jazzhop], and Oat Milk

1. Today is Good Friday, which means, if ever there were a time to consider the brutal instrument of death at the center of a major world religion, that time may as well be now. Off-putting and oft-baffling, the cross carries a multifaceted meaning that can prove elusive for onlookers and skeptics (and, much of […]