Another Week Ends

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David Zahl / 4.22.11

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1. In the mockingcup-runneth-over department, Conference speaker Mark Galli provides a stunning Holy Week meditation in Christianity Today, “Mercifully Forsaken,” quoting among others St Paul, Martin Luther, Gerhard Forde and… our very own Simeon Zahl! Bravo:

Simeon Zahl, a scholar studying at Cambridge University, says, in a paper entitled “The Spirit and the Cross”: “One of the most reliable ways in which the Spirit acts in our lives is through ‘negative’, cruciform experiences: through suffering, the thwarting of our egos, and the uncomfortable disruption of usual patterns of relating to the world, to each other, and to God.”

He notes that we see this sort of activity of the Spirit in John 16:8, where we are told that one of the Spirit’s roles is to “convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment.” Zahl adds, “It is the Spirit, too, who led Jesus out into the desert to be starved and tempted (Matthew 4:1; Mark 1:12; Luke 4:1-2). When people have so-called ‘desert experiences’, where God feels painfully silent or distant or absent, they may well be experiencing the Spirit in that very fact . … Or to put the principle in the most proper theological perspective: Jesus’ anointed, Spirit-led path, following his baptism by the Spirit, led him on a direct line to crucifixion and death.”

2. Have you read the transcript from Donald Trump’s 2007 deposition that recently went public? Unbelievable and very relevant/entertaining stuff, ht WDR:

Trump: My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with the markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings, but I try.

Ceresney: Let me just understand that a little. You said your net worth goes up and down based upon your own feelings?

Trump: Yes, even my own feelings, as to where the world is, where the world is going, and that can change rapidly from day to day …

3. As a follow-up to our recent post on Ayn Rand, in the May issue of First Things none other than David Bentley Hart takes the release of the first part of the new Atlast Shrugged adaptation as an opportunity to, well, skewer the influential author. One particularly fine excerpt from his “The Trouble with Ayn Rand,”:

Ayn Rand always provokes a rather extravagant reaction from me, and probably for purely ideological reasons. For instance, I like the Sermon on the Mount. She regarded its prescriptions as among the vilest ever uttered. I suspect that charity really is the only way to avoid wasting one’s life in a desert of sterile egoism. She regarded Christian morality as a poison that had polluted the will of Western man with its ethos of parasitism and orgiastic self-oblation. And, simply said, I cannot find much common ground with someone who believed that the principal source of human woe over the last twenty centuries has been a tragic shortage of selfishness.

4. Then there’s “Keep Your Thumbs Still While I’m Talking To You,” a fascinating report from David Carr in this past week’s NY Times on the social limitations of smartphone technology:

William Powers, the author of “Hamlet’s BlackBerry,” a book about getting control of your digital life, appeared on a panel at South by Southwest and wrote that he came away thinking he had witnessed “a gigantic competition to see who can be more absent from the people and conversations happening right around them. Everyone in Austin was gazing into their little devices — a bit desperately, too, as if their lives depended on not missing the next tweet.”

In a phone conversation a few weeks afterward, Mr. Powers said that he is far from being a Luddite, but that he doesn’t “buy into the idea that digital natives can do both screen and eye contact…. They are not fully present because we are not built that way,” he said.

Where other people saw freedom — from the desktop, from social convention, from the boring guy in front of them — Mr. Powers saw “a kind of imprisonment… There is a great deal of conformity under way, actually,” he added.

5. This just in: Mel Gibson Finally Talks.

6. A worthy look from Michelle Minton at the National Review at the whole Law-increasing-the-Trespass aspect of underage drinking in this country, “Lower The Drinking Age For Everyone.” Speaking as a person that works with college students, it’s hard to deny that the prohibition is exacerbating the problem, driving it underground (in a strange let’s-all-turn-a-blind-eye way) and therefore promoting the absurd binge culture with which we are currently saddled. That said, I haven’t been personally affected by DUI-related tragedy… ht DB.

7. In TV, Game of Thrones started out okay – significant points off the pandering amount of nudity – but certainly looks promising. Also, I must say, the second half of this season of Parenthood really turned things around. While there’s still the white-people-apologizing-a-lot thing, there’s also the superb Grace in Practice moments that we’ve come to expect from Jason Katims. The second to last episode in particular, in which Adam Braverman (Peter Krause) has to come to terms with his daughter Haddie’s loss of virginity was extremely well-done and touching. The performances, with the exception of ultra-irritating young Max, are across the board phenomenal.

8. Finally, as a sidenote to our ongoing Superman series, The A/V Club published a stellar review of DCAU flagship film, “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” this past week.

P.S. If you’re looking for some quality sermons that speak to today’s significance, be sure to check out our Resources page, where you’ll find not one but two Good Friday sermons from Paul Zahl. Then, if you peruse the Podcast section (and Church links), you’ll be able to find current ones from many of our contributors. Feel free to drop recommendations/links in the comments section as well.