Grace at the Movies

TheWayBack

 In their first co-directed film, The Way Way Back (2013), Nat Faxon and Jim Rash feature fourteen-year-old Duncan (Liam James), who goes on summer vacation with his newly-divorced mom (Toni Collette), her new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell), and Trent’s daughter from a previous relationship, Steph (Zoe Levin). The movie begins as the four of them are on the way to Trent’s beach house, with Trent asking Duncan to rate himself—his personality, looks, everything—on a scale of one to ten whi … [Read more...]

Bleeding Edge

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 Is it better to seek the truth, or to accept the comfort of illusion? That is one of the central questions posed by Bleeding Edge, the latest novel from Thomas Pynchon that paints a picture of greed, ambition, and paranoia in wake of the rise and fall of the dot-com era and 9/11.Steeped in pop-culture references to Beanie Babies, Friends, and Britney Spears, the book captures the enthusiasm and recklessness of the dot-com bubble as well as the panic, uncertainty, and despair of … [Read more...]

What We Talk About When We Talk About Ambition

When it comes to ambition, it sometimes seems that feeding our egos means starving our souls. The Onion highlighted this ambivalence with an article headlined “Unambitious Loser with Happy, Fulfilling Life Still Lives in Hometown.” Quote: “Sources close to Husmer reported that the man, who has meaningful, lasting personal relationships and a healthy work-life balance, is an unmotivated washout who’s perfectly comfortable being a nobody.” This Onion piece juxtaposes the language of worldly success … [Read more...]

That They May Be One

Just last week, I met up with an acquaintance with whom I had grown up in the church, but who, after studying sociology in college, dropped the faith because it simply “didn’t help him understand the world” in a way that made a difference as to how he would live his life. Faith in Jesus was not a live option for him because it seemed that various other sociological factors could better explain the dynamics of Christianity than the self-definition that Christians themselves offered of themselves. … [Read more...]

Big Lies

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 As Irving Rosenfeld, the consummate con-man of American Hustle explains, people want to be conned. That’s because, broadly speaking, there are two types of personal change. There is real change, involving an internal change of disposition, and there is superficial change, involving an external change of circumstances. The former is difficult— so, unsurprisingly, we tend to be attracted to the latter. It is this desire for quick and easy transformation that the con-man feeds on. We want … [Read more...]

#OnlyHuman

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  Editor’s Note: This article concludes a two-part series on social media, begun with “Reading Charitably” by Laura Marshall [Issue 6: Self and Other]. We encourage you to read these pieces in conjunction, and conversation, with one another. You Instagram a Pic-Stitched picture. You post a link to an outstanding article on Facebook with incisively clever commentary. You tweet a funny quote that you know will get some replies and retweets.You wait a few minutes. Wel … [Read more...]

The Empathy Exams

07book"The Empathy Exam" by Leslie Jamison.

 Leslie Jamison’s essays in The Empathy Exams ask – and begin to answer – an array of important questions about pain, healing, and empathy. To list just a few: When does empathy actually reinforce the pain it wants to console? Can pain be actual and constructed at the same time? And how do we represent female pain without producing a culture in which this pain has been fetishized to the point of fantasy or imperative?Jamison frames her writing as “a search for possibility,” which cou … [Read more...]


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