In the Queue

What’s in my browser and/or Instapaper queue today (which means I haven’t read most of it, but I was interested enough to open the link and plan to read it later):

  • An interview with Ken Myers (of Mars Hill Audio Journal, which I cannot possibly praise enough) from last year’s fall edition of Comment. In re-reading it, I find his suggestions to once again be immensely challenging.

    3. You believe individualism to be a corrosive, destructive force in the modern world. Do you have any suggestions for students who wonder how to live in way that is not individualistic in the context of today’s college or university?

    Some form of community is often prescribed as the antidote to individualism. But “community” involves more than getting together with a bunch of people just like you. So I would urge students to get involved as much as possible in the lives of people who are unlike them: different ages, different vocations, different stages in life. Local churches are (at least in theory) an ideal place for this, as long as the church doesn’t segregate students into the “student ministries.”

    Secondly, one of the great conveyors of individualism is the commodification of everything. Individualism goes hand-in-hand with the displacement of the idea of culture as a legacy or inheritance with that of culture as a set of sovereignly selected commodities. We now choose everything in our cultural life; we don’t simply receive anything. One way of fighting the mentality of individualism is to put oneself in a position where one is an apprentice, where one receives something offered rather than “consumes” it. For example, find someone (in that church community you’re a part of) who knows a lot about an ethnic food tradition and go to a restaurant with them, letting them choose the menu (and maybe you can even pay for their meal). Or find someone (a professor, even) who knows a lot about some artistic tradition that is foreign to you (German cinema, Renaissance choral music, English detective fiction) and apprentice yourself to them. You could do the same with master gardeners, cooks, bird watchers, woodworkers, motorcycle mechanics, even theologians. Yes, there is an initial act of individual choice, but submitting to someone else’s authority and expertise over time is a great way to fight the temptation to assert our own sovereignty.

  • From the Guardian: “Technology and the novel, from Blake to Ballard
  • Steve Garber in the Art House America blog on “The Epistemology of Love
  • Several students have approached me about leading film conversations in different contexts on campus this year, so I’m looking back at the Arts & Faith Top 100 list. (I think Babette’s Feast may be first on my list.)
  • Obama gets the new Franzen novel early, panic ensues. (I have checked Amazon basically every day hoping that the novel – which I preordered what seems like millenia ago – has shipped. It has not. I may be a little obsessed.)
  • Kevin Spacey will be in the Bridge Project’s Richard III at BAM this winter – directed by Sam Mendes.
  • David Brooks as public theologian?

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