Friday Link Love: Mrs. Jesus, Mandatory Sandwiches, and a Wee Bit of Death

Let me first dispense with the Links of Self Promo:

New Website // Order the Book // Sign up for the Goodreads Giveaway

OK. Now that that’s done…

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Interactive Cloud of 6,000 Light Bulbs — O.C.L.

That’s Obligatory Colossal Link:

Gorgeous!

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Small Good Things — Paris Review

A lovely little essay about how writers illuminate the sacramental nature of ordinary things, particularly food.

The author talks about Raymond Carver’s story “A Small Good Thing,” which you may recall is about a couple who lose their 8 year old son, and they are tormented by the phone calls from a hapless baker who is demanding payment for the birthday cake he made for the boy.

I performed that piece for Prose Interp competitions in high school. I read it now and cringe to think of my performance. What did I know at 18 about the heartbreak within that story? Nothing. I knew nothing.

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Famous Writers on Death and Mortality — Flavorwire

I’ll say it—Christopher Hitchens was a pretentious old crank—but I cannot wait to read his book Mortality. In honor of its publication, here are 20 writers on the last great mystery:

“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves.

I wish for all this to be marked on by body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography — to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience.” – Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

By the way, if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend Sum: 40 Tales of the Afterlives by David Eagleman. So, so imaginative and poignant.

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How the President Gets Things Done — 99U

I really like 99U. Lots of cool ideas there. Here are some things that Barack Obama does to make his life easier and more efficient, including offloading trivial decisions like what to eat and wear.

#5 warmed my Sabbath-loving heart:

5. Your personal time is sacred.

The president has three moments in his schedule that are unquestionably his: the morning workout, his dinner with his daughters, and the nighttime after his family falls asleep. Each block of time serves a different role for Obama: the gym keeps his body in good health, the late night helps him catch up on work, and the dinner is especially sacred time, with the added benefit of giving the president a bit of perspective outside his hectic workday.

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Historian Says Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife — NYT

This has been making the rounds. This scrap of papyrus suggests that Jesus might have had a wife—it would not have been unusual at the time, folks—and  that there were female disciples (not earth-shattering to anyone who’s actually read the gospels—sisters are all over that good news!). Here’s the pertinent bit:

“This fragment suggests that some early Christians had a tradition that Jesus was married,” Dr. King said. “There was, we already know, a controversy in the second century over whether Jesus was married, caught up with a debate about whether Christians should marry and have sex.”

People have been wondering and arguing about this guy for a very, very long time. Disagreement over contested truths are nothing new. Giddy-up and praise be.

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Should Lunch Breaks Be Mandatory? — BBC

I’m not sure how I feel about mandating lunch breaks. Especially for people with a long commute and/or kids at home, there’s something to be said for compressing the workday so they can get home at a decent hour. Still:

One obvious reason to do lunch is to slow down and gain some perspective. If we burrow into work, and don’t come up for air during the day, we will have a hard time thinking strategically or putting our daily tasks into broader context.

By taking a lunch break, we can think outside the box. In the interviews I conducted for my book, I was struck by how many senior leaders stressed the importance of strategic “downtime” – lunch or some other block of an hour or more per day – to break up their thinking and spur them to be more strategic.

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What Americans Actually Do All Weekend, in 2 Graphs — NPR

What do you see in this graph? I see:

  1. A lot of sleep.
  2. Religious activities are only 37 minutes… and yet many worship services last an hour. So what’s up with the other 23 minutes? Oh right: sleeping.

Well, whatever the weekend holds for you, I hope that the leisure bit is a nice big piece of the graph.

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Move Over Mitch: Sam Bee Gets It

Does that kid look just like Jason Jones or what?!

It’s my first day back to work after last week’s ultra-fun but ultra-tiring staycation with the kids. So it was great timing to read this hilarious piece my Samantha Bee. (Thank you Casey.)

Oddly enough, it has a very similar message, with none of the plaintive, child-free cluelessness, as Mitch Albom’s call for someone to please think of the children! Which I railed on here and here.

Take it away Sam:

Let’s be clear about something: I love my children more than life itself, and I would happily lay down my life or yours for them, as required. And I am a “tiger mother” of sorts; except that in my case, I’m the tiger who lays there helplessly in the sun as her tiger babies climb all over her, tugging on her fur and generally having their way with her. It’s summer vacation with the kids again, and I am in full “weary tiger” mode.

I just don’t have any more energy to dig in and renovate my children into super-intelligent reading cyborgs for the first day of school. I can’t do any more rainy day activities with dry oatmeal in a cardboard box. I simply will not sing the “Fruit Salad Salsa” even one more time; if the children can’t get behind Neil Young that’s their problem until school starts up again. And my stern warnings have become completely senseless; “I’m warning you—if you don’t eat all your Gummy Worms you’re not getting any Sour Patch Kids! I am tired of wasting all this good candy!”

Frankly, from now until September the only learning we will be engaging in will be movie-based. I plan to let them watch “Star Wars,” and will continue to play it in a constant loop until they can imaginatively explain to me what it might feel like to “make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.” It’s all I can do to stave off the pandemonium that could be.

More at the link. And God bless you Samantha Bee… from one weary tiger to another.

Today’s Episode of Not Getting It

I guess I shouldn’t expect anything much from Parade Magazine. Yet I keep coming back, because I like reading about celebrities I’ve never heard of, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a few feisty articles, debunking conventional wisdom and afflicting the comfortable (really). But this one is just a load of tone-deaf idiocy:

Mitch Albom: The Joys of Summer

I feel sorry for today’s kids. Summer comes, they’re finally free from school—and bang! Band camp. Science seminars. Internships.

Instead of downtime, it’s get-up-and-go time. Chorus travel, archaeological digs, dance tours. My nephew from Michigan flew to Georgetown University for a summer medical program, replete with cadavers. He was 16.

(Am I the only one thinking that the doctor camp sounds awesome?)

When I think of my childhood summers, I remember lying in the grass, hands behind my head, feeling the blades dig into my fingers. I studied the clouds. I joked with my friends. None of us wore watches.

And none of you had a mother who worked outside the home.

BINGO!

EUREKA!

And I am shocked, shocked to learn from Wikipedia that Mitch the Parenting Expert does not have children of his own.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “If we don’t enroll our kids in an activity, all they’ll do is text. Or watch TV (and text) or talk on the phone (and text).”

No you don’t. I’m thinking, if we don’t enroll our kids in an activity, I’ll be put in jail for leaving an 8 year old at home by herself to study clouds while I go DO MY FREAKIN’ JOB.

…Mitch.

Mitch, Mitch, Mitch.

These are serious times we live in. And you have completely missed the point.

I wonder if the people who’ve been out of work for 18 months or more are thinking, “Well, we’re one illness away from losing our home, but it’s worth it because my kid can lie on the grass without wearing a watch while her friends are at archaeology camp.”

What an opportunity you had, Mitch, to talk about the economic realities of two-career families, or maybe even single-parent families, remember those? Or to wonder whether three months of summer vacation even makes sense anymore when parents work and other countries are cleaning our clock in math and science. Perhaps an oblique mention of the fact that the gap between rich and poor keeps widening to dangerous levels, especially in communities of color, even as those of us lucky enough to have jobs continue working our tails off.

Aw, who am I kidding?! Who wants to read depressing, eggheaded stuff like that? Much better to offer up a big stinking pile of parental guilt-mongering and get-off-my-lawn buffoonery.

That sells.

Actually it doesn’t sell. But it does come free in the Sunday newspaper.