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Nerd Alert! The Curious Rehabilitation of Geeks

Nerd Alert! The Curious Rehabilitation of Geeks

Of all the reversals we’ve seen take place in our culture of late, one of the most unexpected has to be what’s happened with “nerds”. If you had told me in 1988 that the group of oddballs who sold me and my friends our comic books every Saturday would come...

In a World of Suffering, the “And Yet”

In a World of Suffering, the “And Yet”

Well, Modern Love’s Daniel Jones is certainly not on vacation. This past Friday’s installment of our favorite relationships column was a heat-seeking missile into the dark depths of marital skepticism. Surprisingly, though, the article does not object to marital skepticism–it normalizes it. Ada Calhoun writes about her own 10+ years of marriage and the difficulties...

Anxious About Grace: Some Thoughts on Max Weber

Anxious About Grace: Some Thoughts on Max Weber

Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) has been immensely influential, with the “Weber thesis” being one of the most well-known Interesting Ideas around.  The idea, basically, is that Protestantism, especially in Calvinist and Wesleyan and Baptist and ‘Pietistic’ forms, has been a major contributor to...

Why Harper Lee Is a Prophet

Why Harper Lee Is a Prophet

The overall response to Harper Lee’s newly published novel of sketchy origins, Go Set a Watchman, has been nothing short of hysterical. This review contains spoilers, but if you’ve Googled Watchman at all in the past week, then there’s really nothing left for me to spoil: Atticus is a racist,...

Good Poems for Hard Times: A Love Letter to Garrison Keillor

Good Poems for Hard Times: A Love Letter to Garrison Keillor

In a preaching class in seminary we were all told to go around the room and tell everyone our name, where we were from, and who our favorite preacher was. While I knew it probably wasn’t the right answer, the truest answer for me was that my favorite preacher was,...

CAST AWAY, US 2000 TOM HANKS CASTAWAY US 2000 TOM HANKS Date 2000, Photo by: Mary Evans/C20TH FOX / DREAMWORKS/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection(10305969)

Law & Gospel: News from Across the Sea

The following is excerpted from Mockingbird’s newest resource, Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints), which is available here. This comes from the beginning of the Gospel section:

‘News’ expresses something different from ‘knowledge.’ We live in a time of unprecedented knowledge: a day’s worth of new data now...

2015 Kanuga Renewal Conference: Rest

2015 Kanuga Renewal Conference: Rest

An enormous thanks to all those who make last week’s Renewal Conference at Kanuga happen. It was such a joy and privilege to be asked to provide the content, and spend a week with such a wonderful group of people (in such a beautiful place). Best of all, the time...

The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow in Tomorrowland:  Disney Does Eschatology

The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow in Tomorrowland: Disney Does Eschatology

The futuristic city of Tomorrowland in the film Tomorrowland rises from the amber waves of a vast field of ripened grain, gleaming in the sunlight like, well, like the New Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:2). But this is the City of Man, or at least...

From the Forgiveness Issue: A Q&A with Philip Yancey

From the Forgiveness Issue: A Q&A with Philip Yancey

For this fifth issue of the magazine, we had the privilege of talking to author and journalist Philip Yancey about the message of grace in today’s churches. We also got a chance to re-print a small sample of his most recent book Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News?.

To...

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Passionate vs. Cool: Performancism in College

Passionate vs. Cool: Performancism in College

Set to start my senior year of college, a few interactions from my first semester in Charlottesville still stick with me. One was a question my advisor asked me as I anxiously slumped into a chair in his office for the first time. The second is a comment I made over lunch with a professor I respect and am hugely intimidated by.

The question that sent me squirming in my seat was a seemingly simple one: “What are you passionate about?” … Crickets. He prodded, offering up easy suggestions for an 18-year-old male: sports, food, money, girls … “Sex?” he even asked, in…

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2-29-96 For John Barron story...David Foster Wallace discusses his new novel, 'Infinite Jest'.  Ellen Domke/Sun-Times  96-02-703

The Non-Binding Paradox (of How David Foster Wallace Had Fun)

Tomorrow marks the release of The End of the Tour, the dramatization of David Lipsky’s book-length interview with author David Foster Wallace, (a number of portions of which we’ve posted over the years). As much as I admire Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg, I’m in the camp of those who are ambivalent about the film’s production. Just feels too soon, and as his estate has made abundantly clear, there is no way the man himself would have wanted this to happen. The initial images from the set looked dubious, but then the first trailer appeared (below), and it was far…

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Love, Suffering & Creativity Event – This Saturday in Costa Mesa, CA

This Saturday evening 8/1, I’m honored to be joining musician Dustin Kensrue (Thrice) and journalist Brett McCracken (Hipster Christianity) to speak about Love, Suffering and Creativity at Cross of Christ Church in Costa Mesa, CA. Event starts at 6:30pm and costs $20. Everyone who comes gets a free copy of The Forgiveness Issue. Would love to see you there! Click here for more info. I’m also speaking tomorrow evening, Thursday 7/29, at the White Horse Inn Weekend in Pasadena on the topic of “Jesus According to Pop Culture”, which, it turns out, is a ridiculously fun subject.

Of Death & Southern Comfort: The Making of an Everyday Priest

Of Death & Southern Comfort: The Making of an Everyday Priest

Walking through an abandoned rent house and seeing the ruins of former tenants is an exercise in human connection—archaeology of life, or the privation of it. In nearly twenty years, I haven’t often found deep meaning in getting a house “rent ready,” but I find myself being taken in by the nihilistic futility of Rust Cohle as I traverse from one scene of archaeological ruin to the next. Nothing draws these connections as powerfully, though, as when the ruins are left in a tenant’s wake even though their earthly body still blocks the house’s front entrance. This just happened a…

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Penn Faces and Campus Tragedies: More Notes on an Epidemic

Penn Faces and Campus Tragedies: More Notes on an Epidemic

Here’s why I didn’t want to write about Julie Scelfo’s recent article “Campus Suicide and the Pressure of Perfection” in The NY Times:

It is not because we’ve written about the phenomenon too many times already–though we have. It is because writing about it again only serves to underline how futile-seeming these kinds of reflections are. Who wants to spend an afternoon basking in despair? Or mitigating the despair by placing oneself above it all? It is deeply unpleasant.

This past year Charlottesville witnessed four undergraduate suicides, and I’m not sure I can muster the energy to cartwheel yet again over the…

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PZ’s Podcast: Cross Dressing and Left Hand Path

PZ’s Podcast: Cross Dressing and Left Hand Path

EPISODE 193: Cross Dressing

“I’m absolutely captivated by a movie called The Gallant Hours (1959), starring James Cagney and directed by Robert Montgomery.

For one thing, it presents an ideal picture of how a person should be thanked for faithful service. And what a piece of work the “Church” is,
that it’s so rarely able to give thanks for the work of its servants. (Oh, unless they’re newly dead. Thank God he’s dead!) It’s almost as if the Church specializes in forgetfulness concerning the brightest and best. I’ve seen that happen in about 500 cases, my own, of course, being an exception.

More importantly,…

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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt. 2: The Collapse of Human Civilization

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt. 2: The Collapse of Human Civilization

This is the second installment of author Ted Scofield’s series on “everybody else’s biggest problem.” If you missed his introduction to the series, you can read it here. New installments will be posted every two weeks, on Tuesdays.

“The United States has become a greedier, meaner, colder, more selfish, and more uncaring place. This is no wild inferential speculation but, rather, the informed consensus of the American people.” – James Patterson & Peter Kim, The Day America Told the Truth

“James Patterson is an American author with a net worth of $350 million … Patterson earned $90 million in the last 12…

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Letters from Old Boxes: Searching for a Wild Love

Letters from Old Boxes: Searching for a Wild Love

Two years after moving into our house, my husband and I have finally unpacked. We got through all the easy stuff first: kid toys, old clothes, books that we will never actually read. And then we began to deal with the heavier stuff of life. Which astonishingly seems to come in the form of papers.

There were photographs from prom (his) and programs from earnestly bad high school theatre productions (mine). We found our first driver’s licenses and concert tickets. But mostly, there were pages of letters from old boyfriends. There was correspondence in that box that went from 7th grade crushes…

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Ines Boubakri of Tunisia, left and Nicole Ross of the United States compete in the round of 32 during women's fencing at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Saving Face: the Relational Politics of “I Don’t Know”

This post was co-written by Samantha McKean and Kristen Gunn. Sam is a student at Duke Divinity School, where she’s realizing what she actually does and doesn’t know. Kristen is heavily into words and why we say them, which is how this conversation became a post.

Sam: I say “I don’t know,” a lot. It’s a filler, a tic, the new “um” or “like” that your Com101 professors warned you about. It comes tacked onto the end of my sentences like sad parade banners. Most of the time, I don’t even notice I’m saying it.

I have a friend who always calls…

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Another Week Ends: John Henryism, Fargo, ISIS, The Modern Mind, and Halo Losers

Another Week Ends: John Henryism, Fargo, ISIS, The Modern Mind, and Halo Losers

1) A trio of articles surfaced recently about the psychological relationships between work ethic and mental health. It appears that anxiety is on the rise, especially for achievers. The first one of note, from The Atlantic, introduces the phenomenon of “John Henryism,” claiming that there is a paradoxical health risk to those who happen to work really hard to find success. A study was done with a group of underprivileged kids from low-income neighborhoods, who exhibited strong academic performance and self-control. While this self-control and determination led them to more opportunities beyond their circumstances, their health suffered because of it.

They…

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Woody Allen, Walker Percy and “The Search”

Woody Allen, Walker Percy and “The Search”

“You suffer from despair,” Emma Stone tells Joaquin Phoenix’s character in the trailer for Woody Allen’s new movie, Irrational Man. “It was at this moment that my life came together,” Phoenix chimes in later via voiceover, “I’m Abe Lucas, I’ve had many experiences and now a unique one … This was the meaningful act I was searching for!” With this exclamation, he seems to have shaken his despair, assumedly the inner conflict that the film will center around. But, unless Woody Allen has had an extreme change of religious conviction, I suspect that Phoenix’s transcendent, unique act won’t lead to…

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Why Harper Lee Is a Prophet

Why Harper Lee Is a Prophet

The overall response to Harper Lee’s newly published novel of sketchy origins, Go Set a Watchman, has been nothing short of hysterical. This review contains spoilers, but if you’ve Googled Watchman at all in the past week, then there’s really nothing left for me to spoil: Atticus is a racist, and that’s the main cause of nationwide collywobbles.

I was surprised to find that this isn’t just a dilemma of literary proportions: The turn of events has real-life implications, as when, only a month ago, bombshell Jennifer Love Hewitt named her newborn son Atticus, thereby suffering an actual bombshell when she…

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