1.29.2013

Ten on Tuesday: Links Edition

I've read some particularly great stuff on the good old Internet lately. Here are ten standouts.

1. Jason Byassee on why that Mumford and Sons video is so powerful:
Part of the appeal is how far past cool they are. They play like musicians in love with their music and unconcerned about how they look playing it. They show a puppy-dog dorkiness about the upright bass, the banjo, the keyboard, the microphone, the occasional brass section. They look lost in the music, like worship at its best. They look like they’re having as much fun as anyone in the house.
2. Amanda Ripley, Your Brain in a Shootout: Guns, Fear and Flawed Instincts:
"Winning a gunfight without shooting innocent people typically requires realistic, expensive training and a special kind of person, a fact that has been strangely absent in all the back-and-forth about assault-weapon bans and the Second Amendment."
3. Gordon Atkinson on becoming an Episcopalian:
Do you really want to go to a church for the first time and understand everything that’s going on? Do you really want to walk into the most sacred hour of the week for an ancient spiritual tradition and find no surprises and nothing to learn or strive for? Do you really want a spiritual community to be so perfectly enmeshed with your cultural expectations that you can drop right into the mix with no effort at all, as if you walked into a convenience store in another city and were comforted to find that they sell Clark Bars, just like the 7-11 back home?
4. Sarah Bessey, I am Damaged Goods:
Over the years the messages melded together into the common refrain: “Sarah, your virginity was a gift and you gave it away. You threw away your virtue for a moment of pleasure. You have twisted God’s ideal of sex and love and marriage. You will never be free of your former partners, the boys of your past will haunt your marriage like soul-ties. Your virginity belonged to your future husband. You stole from him. If – if! – you ever get married, you’ll have tremendous baggage to overcome in your marriage, you’ve ruined everything. No one honourable or godly wants to marry you. You are damaged goods, Sarah.” 
If true love waits, I heard, then I have been disqualified from true love.
5. William Willimon on the Incarnational Quality of Fiction:
It’s no surprise that some of our greatest novelists -- Flannery O’Connor, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene -- were Catholics. There is a sacramental quality of fiction, an incarnational quality of fiction, whereby the earthy people, utterly human people, have been in some mysterious way embraced by the divine and become themselves sort of sacramental. We see God through the most mundane and quotidian of devices.
6. Lore Ferguson, Mark Driscoll Isn't My Pastor:
I go to my church. I am covenanted in there. I am knit there. I seek theology first in the Word and second from my pastors. I trust there. I am trusted there. They rightly have the most influence on me and I trust that even with all the influence I might have elsewhere, the most influence I have is there. At my church.
7. Marta Layton, The New Testament Parable that is Les Miserables:
Les Miserables, which won the Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy earlier this week, is easily the most explicitly religious movie I've seen in a long time. Characters speak of Lucifer's fall, the never-ending road to Calvary, beggars at the feast and many other Biblical references. More generally, the conflict between the two main characters - Jean Valjean and Javert - resembles a problem central to Christian morality: the tension between mercy and the law.
8. Lillian Daniel, Tough Love for Spiritual But Not Religious:
There seems to be this tolerance in the American public square for people to stereotype Christianity in ways that, if they were to for another religion, we would call them bigoted. They’ll say things like, “They’re just after your money, they’re all homophobic, they oppress women.” And you want to say, “Wait a second, my church doesn’t do that.” It’s almost like it’s an acceptable prejudice. I would not debate that there are forms of Christianity that do all the things they are complaining about. But prejudice is when you paint all of Christianity with that brush. So increasingly, I’m saying, “Sorry, but I’m just not going to apologize for a religion I’m not a part of.”
9. David Remnick, Scenes from the Inauguration:
The Obamas are so preposterously good-looking, so put together, that you watch them come out of a morning church service and you notice the President of the United States fourth. Whoever thought to give Michelle Obama purple gloves so that they echoed her daughters’ outfits—well, are there prizes for that?
10. Erica Schemper, Membership or Mishpaha:
I get a little nervous about family language in the church. If we’re talking family, as in the romanticized Victorian notion of it, that’s not exactly what church is all about. But if we’re talking mishpaha, that’s another matter.

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