A Tale of Two Political Dramas

Last week at Christianity Today, I wrote about political dramas (with special attention to Scandal and Madam Secretary), and what they teach us, and why it matters: It's important to note the bent of our political shows, because not only do they say interesting things about our national psyche, but they shape that psyche. They shape how we approach our engagement with politics. They shape our future as a society governed by the people. And they shape it far more tellingly than any speech or reas … [Read More...]

Learning to Love Your Job

Over at The High Calling today, Bob Smietana writes about learning to love your job, in a post apt for a Monday, and a couple who's managed to wed their love of music-making with their passion for social justice and bringing women out of prostitiution: Then there’s the sheer joy of making music, whether it is during a jam session in the living room or during a gig.“Music has been something that has enriched our lives far beyond the idea that I am going to get up and do something on stage and peo … [Read More...]

Anthology: the Power of Words

Over at The High Calling, Alia Joy has a lovely meditation on the power of words and stories: I can’t imagine living in a world where words couldn’t speak to me and rewrite my truth, and I suppose my dad couldn’t either. I don’t know what causes some souls to hunger and ache to know, but he surely did. He wanted to know, or maybe to be known. Don’t we all want that just a little bit? Don’t we all want to understand ourselves and to be understood? So, my dad found solace in books. He read himself … [Read More...]

And Speaking of Friendship . . .

Particularly situations in which friends can be made, as David Brooks wrote about in yesterday's post: Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, does something very interesting along these lines - though a recent battle between the retailer and a major publisher is souring the relationship: Every fall, Mr. Bezos, the founder of Amazon, hosts Campfire, a literary weekend in Santa Fe, N.M. Dozens of well-known novelists have attended, but they do not talk about the abundance of high-end clothing and … [Read More...]

David Brooks on Friendship (and Its Benefits)

David Brooks had a great piece at the New York Times last weekend on the social and political benefits of friendship, and how to revive the lost art: Somebody recently asked me what I would do if I had $500 million to give away. My first thought was that I’d become a moderate version of the Koch brothers. I’d pay for independent candidates to run against Democratic or Republican members of Congress who veered too far into their party’s fever swamps. But then I realized that if I really had that … [Read More...]

Speaking of classic literature . . .

The Book Haven blog has the writer Italo Calvino's list of what makes a book a classic: 3.  The classics are books which exercise a particular influence, both when they imprint themselves on our imagination as unforgettable, and when they hide in the layers of memory disguised as the individual’s or the collective unconscious. 4.  A classic is a book which with each rereading offers as much of a sense of discovery as the first reading. 5.  A classic is a book which even when we read it for the … [Read More...]

Henry James and the YA Debate

There's plenty of talk these days about whether adults should be spending so much time - as they are - on young adult (or "YA") novels, or if they need to be reading more weighty books. Over at The New Yorker, Christopher Beha explores what the nineteenth-century author Henry James has to do with all of this: When I mentioned this plan to friends, their responses fell roughly into two camps. “How impressive,” some said. “Better you than me,” others said. They seemed to take for granted that such … [Read More...]

What Working With Editors Taught Me About Christ

As an editor, I work with writers - and as a writer, I work with editors, too. I get to see and experience both sides of the equation, and I know from personal experience both that it's hard to find a good editor and it's hard to be one.So I enjoyed this reflection on what working with a good editor taught one writer about Jesus: For all that I thought I was being forthright and honest in my writing, Rich could see what I couldn’t, that I was holding back. As he read my second draft on Su … [Read More...]

The Evaluation: Five Kinds of Supervisor Performance Reviews

Nobody likes being evaluated at work (or at least, I don't). But it can be good for us. If you're in the position to be doing the evaluating, though, how do you do it well? Over at The High Calling, Glynn Young writes about the five kinds of performance evaluations--and evaluators: I have just walked out of my annual performance review. And this one is noteworthy. It’s my last one; this time next year, I’ll be retired. While I believe that supervisors and bosses are important and indispensable, … [Read More...]

Walking, Wounded

At Medium, YA author Sara Zarr writes about learning to acknowledge one's own woundedness: For the last year I’ve been sporadically part of a twelve-step group for adult children of alcoholics. We’re all different but the same—unique stories and past experiences, current symptoms in common. We’re addicts and codependents and perfectionists and procrastinators and controllers and balls of anxiety and need. When I go there, when I read the materials during the week and write in my journal, when I … [Read More...]

Is Pop Culture Too Juvenile?

In the New York Times this past weekend, the film critic A.O. Scott wrote about the slide to juvenile pop culture, and the ups and downs of it. I responded in a Christianity Today piece: Sometimes there’s something to that. Books written for children, movies made for and about teenagers, don’t always provide the kind of intellectual meat that helps adults grow in their understanding of the world. Add to that the steady stream of mediocre fart-joke machines that seek to imitate the few comedies i … [Read More...]

What We Learn from Pumpkin Spice Lattes

We're having a nice cool week here in New York, the kind that reminds you why this is a great, great place to be in the fall. So of course, it's time to read about pumpkin spice lattes, and why they're so popular: Pumpkin Spice Lattes would not be a hit outside the “fall season” for the same reason you can’t stand that one neighbor who still has Christmas lights up in March: the PSL is seasonal, to be enjoyed within that season and within that season only. It is a symbol of change, an accep … [Read More...]

Coffee Week

Just for fun: over at FastCompany, it was recently "coffee week." It includes a ton of fun features, like instructions from CEOs about how to make coffee, and latte art, reports on where our coffee comes from, and way more.Read the whole thing here. … [Read More...]

The Power of Storytelling

There's a lot of talk in the business world about how important it is to learn to tell good stories when you're trying to build your brand or business. But as Denis Haack points out over at The High Calling, there's more to it than that: The nonprofit I direct knows that if our Board is to faithfully accomplish its necessary business, its meetings cannot be “all business.” Just moving efficiently through an agenda of essential tasks—evaluation, planning, budget, policy—does not complete our task … [Read More...]

Creativity Creep

At The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman has some interesting stuff to say about "creativity creep": Every culture elects some central virtues, and creativity is one of ours. In fact, right now, we’re living through a creativity boom. Few qualities are more sought after, few skills more envied. Everyone wants to be more creative—how else, we think, can we become fully realized people? Creativity is now a literary genre unto itself: every year, more and morecreativity books promise to teach creativity … [Read More...]

Work less, do more, live better

Patience Schell reminds us that we might want to reconsider longer hours if we actually want to do good work: Some years ago, I heard that a colleague characterised me as “someone who didn’t work weekends”. This description was not meant as a compliment. It’s true that I make a concerted effort to keep something approximating normal working hours of 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. But I haven’t always worked like this. As a postgrad, I anxiously counted my hours and consulted with fellow students, wor … [Read More...]


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