The Great Diagram

Just for fun: a poster of sentence diagrams of the first sentences of famous novels made the rounds on the Internet last week, and the Paris Review decided to take a look at the history of sentence diagrams: As a pedagogical device, sentence diagrams have fallen out of fashion; I never had to draw them (if that’s [Read More...]

An Unlikely Mentor

At The High Calling, Christine Scheller remembers an unlikely mentor: Ours was an unlikely pairing on the surface. Me: an evangelical Christian, one-time homeschooler, pro-lifer. He a secular Jew, pioneering New York City public television host and station co-founder, long-time president of the Motion Picture Association’s ratings board. What we had in common was Rutgers [Read More...]

In a Sod House

Amy Lepine Peterson writes at Art House America about On the Banks of Plum Creek - and depression, and acedia, and poetry: When I wash the dishes or grade the multiple choice quizzes, then, I try to cultivate my understanding of how those tasks fit into(yes!) the redemptive arc of history.  Maybe I’m joining in God’s [Read More...]

Auden, Anxiety, and the Music on the Way

Anxiety is a powerful problem for many people – I was recently amazed to find out that nearly half of one of my college classes freely admitted to having been on anxiety medication at some point in their lives. For many, it’s something they just have to live with. So I thought Laura Ortberg Turner’s [Read More...]

Rituals for Creativity

It’s Monday, which means we’re all creaking back into gear. On Mondays I always try to kick off my week well by settling into a routine. Sometimes I’m more successful than others, but I know that we’re created as beings who thrive on rituals (after all, observing the Sabbath is one of the first, and [Read More...]

A Film Festival and a Church, Together

There’s a lot of discussion in both the religious world and the film world about the often fractious relationship between the two. But last weekend, the New York Times reported on the well-respected True/False Film Festival . . . and the 4000-member Evangelical Presbyterian church that supports it, while letting it run mostly autonomously: It was Mr. [Read More...]

Feminism, Depravity, and House of Cards

Whether or not you’re one of the many Americans who’s been spending an outsize amount of time watching season two of House of Cards on Netflix, you’ve certainly heard about the phenomenon and its calculating power-hungry couple, Frank and Claire Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Wright won a Golden Globe for her performance, and [Read More...]

The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking

By now, the idea of the “power of positive thinking” is a cliche, but one that we almost accept as being self-evidently true. Positive people get ahead, right? At the New Yorker, Adam Alter explores research challenging that notion: According to a great deal of research, positive fantasies may lessen your chances of succeeding. In one [Read More...]

Beauty and Wonder at Work

Over at The High Calling, they’re having a discussion about beauty and wonder in the workplace. Here’s two pieces worth reading. First, Charity Singleton Craig looks at “creating beauty in the workplace” — and how it’s everyone’s job. She provides dozens of links to articles on the subject from The High Calling and around the [Read More...]

Those Dandy Selfies

We often think of the “selfie” (the practice of taking self-portraits and posting them to the Internet on social media like Facebook and Instagram) as a sort of postmodern phenomenon for teenagers. But over at the Paris Review blog, Tara Isabella Burton suggests that the origins of the selfie can be traced to nineteenth-century dandyism — [Read More...]

Facing Anxiety and Depression

In an in-class discussion with my students a few weeks ago, I was startled to discover that many, if not most of them had been prescribed medication (often short-term) for anxiety or depression, or both. It seems it’s common now. We had a fruitful discussion about whether we were prescribing medication more, or whether there [Read More...]

What Happy People Do

I know happiness itself is a much-debated topic in Christian circles (should we seek happiness or joy? and so on). But I did find this article on “seven habits of incredibly happy people” very interesting: 5. Embrace Discomfort for Mastery Happy people generally have something known as a “signature strength” — At least one thing [Read More...]

Why Do We Procrastinate?

Writers are, apparently, the worst procrastinators, though they’re hardly the only ones. Procrastination is a widespread practice. (You’ve probably already procrastinated today.) Megan McArdle is looking at the surprising psychological reasons for procrastination at The Atlantic, through the lens of writers: This teaches a very bad, very false lesson: that success in work mostly depends on [Read More...]

Reading Alone, Together

I love Goodreads. I’ve been using the site for years – maybe five or more – to track my reading, which means I have lists of books I read, reviewed, studied, or taught that I can refer to easily. And I’ve used the site to find new books to read. Goodreads got even more successful [Read More...]

The Missing Ingredient At Work

This feels timely, for a Monday. Over at The High Calling, Leslie Leyland Fields reflects on the ingredient that can make all the difference at work: love. This is our winter work this year, building a house on a wilderness island in Alaska where no one has lived for 30 years. Now there are two. [Read More...]

Will You Pray For My Success?

Over at The High Calling, Jen Sandbuite asks a provocative question: why is it considered pride to ask for prayer that you’ll succeed in your work? I don’t know about you, but I feel like I am conditioned to “respond in prayer.”  Praying for the women in my online study seems natural.  I dream of a [Read More...]