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About CJ Green

CJ Green studied English and Middle Eastern Studies at UVa. His favorite books are for ages 7-12. The Holy Spirit led him to Mockingbird, and he is eternally grateful.

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    The "Centre Point" of Paradox

    The “Centre Point” of Paradox

    I suffer from what psychologytoday.com calls ‘polarized thinking’ (self-diagnosed). This is a way of seeing the world in ‘either/or’ terms. When I judge something — which happens, let’s face it, all the time — it’s either this or that, good or bad, right or wrong. It’s not some of this and some of that — and certainly not all of both. Though it often means being harsh to myself and others, thinking in a polarized way helps me simplify the more complex aspects of the world, while staying comfortably seated in my judge’s chambers.

    For example: if I hit a green…

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    Telling Stories to the Devil: From Healing the Mind Through the Power of Story

    Telling Stories to the Devil: From Healing the Mind Through the Power of Story

    This is an incredible excerpt, albeit completely unorthodox. It comes from a short section entitled, “Saying Goodbye to Satan,” in Lewis Mehl-Madrona’s book, Healing the Mind Through the Power of Story: The Promise of Narrative Psychiatry.

    As you read, note the utter left-handedness in Mehl-Madrona’s approach: he allows the patient to tell her story and enters that story with her, totally devoid of judgment or correction. This example of narrative psychiatry in real-life shows, first of all, that the stories we tell ourselves can be damning; second, that denying those stories won’t restore us to sanity. Instead, acceptance (and more importantly:…

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    Another Week Ends: Rote Religion, Prison Basketball, Google Search Data, Repentant Economists, Arrogant Philosophers, Space Music from Sufjan, and Water Slide Wonders

    Another Week Ends: Rote Religion, Prison Basketball, Google Search Data, Repentant Economists, Arrogant Philosophers, Space Music from Sufjan, and Water Slide Wonders

    1. First up this week, we have an amazing piece by screenwriter Dorothy Fortenberry, who is currently working on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. In “Half-Full of Grace,” for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Fortenberry explains why she still goes to Mass, every Sunday, despite all her expectations to the contrary as a child. In a world of performance, that gracious yet monotonous hour provides a break from the wheel:

    I do not impress anyone at church. I do not say anything surprising or charming, because the things I say are rote responses that someone else decided on centuries ago. I am not special at church, and…

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    A Clockwork Theology and the Un-Free Will

    A Clockwork Theology and the Un-Free Will

    A friend recently noted that TV, post-Breaking Bad, seems to be getting more violent. Typically I’d discard this as your run-of-the-mill cantankerous “kids these days” complaint…but somewhere between grimace-inducing episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and Netflix’s The Keepers, I realized, well, maybe he had a point. Game of Thrones fits the bill. So does HBO’s adaptation of Big Little Lies, which was much darker than its airport-thriller source material. The list goes on.

    Considering all this, I was reminded of the landmark violence of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, which I read way back in high school, for a project about banned books. For the (lucky?) uninitiated, it tells the story of a violent young…

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    Another Week Ends: Compassion at School, Kathy Griffin, Dystopian Fiction, the Feeling of "Liget," Transference in Therapy, and a Robot Priest

    Another Week Ends: Compassion at School, Kathy Griffin, Dystopian Fiction, the Feeling of “Liget,” Transference in Therapy, and a Robot Priest

    1. A segment from NPR this week poignantly illustrated how the law and the gospel play out in real life. The story takes place in New Orleans, where the aftermath of Katrina sent kids’ trauma levels off the charts and schools have begun to pivot away from “no excuses” disciplinary models.

    The particular school profiled here, Crocker College Prep, formerly expected students to abide by a rigid set of rules; many of their students, however, had been exposed to horrific events that impacted their ability to behave accordingly. Trauma aside, anyone faced with a particularly unattainable rule will either fight it or run from it; but in “a kid…

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    The Taste of Freedom

    The Taste of Freedom

    Reading through Noel Jesse Heikkinen’s book, Unchained, I was struck by this incredibly moving story about North Korean prison camp survivor, Shin Dong-hyuk, who escaped in 2005:

    His father and mother were born in the same prison because his uncles had defected to South Korea. North Korea has a well-known policy of “three-generations of punishment” they inflict on those who oppose (or are even suspected of opposing) the government. Because Shin was born in the prison, he knew no other life. In his mind, the entire world was Camp 14, and there were only two types of people in the world: prisoners and guards. You…

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    Book Review: Unchained by Noel Jesse Heikkinen

    Book Review: Unchained by Noel Jesse Heikkinen

    One of the Bible’s more notorious verses appears in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, where he writes: “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (5:1). So much of the New Testament — including Jesus’ ministry and most of the epistles — puts stock in a God who “sets the captives free” (Lk 4). But popular Christian discourse often reduces this integral concept of freedom to one of two things:

    First, and perhaps most common among the well-seasoned faithful, ‘freedom’ is a cautionary freedom; that is, freedom “in perspective.” In this interpretation, ‘the but’ is of utmost importance,…

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    Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Six Verses Twenty-Five Through Twenty-Seven and Thirty-Four

    Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Six Verses Twenty-Five Through Twenty-Seven and Thirty-Four

    Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? … So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own….

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    Another Week Ends: Too Much Fun, Deflating Pikachu, Rock’N’Roll Church, Lovely Creatures, Facebook Grief, Self-Control, and The Forbidden Apple

    Another Week Ends: Too Much Fun, Deflating Pikachu, Rock’N’Roll Church, Lovely Creatures, Facebook Grief, Self-Control, and The Forbidden Apple

    1. “Are We Having Too Much Fun?” asks Megan Garber, in this week’s Atlantic, re-examining the objections of renowned tech-skeptic Neil Postman.

    Postman cautioned against a society focused too heavily on entertainment — a bitter pill to serve this Golden Age of TV that so often leaves us viewing life as a well-crafted episode. Moreover, Garber argues, when our entertainment is also our news (think late-night comedy-satire-journalism), politics become part of the joke, and apathy is sure to follow. Consider, too, all of those Harambe memes, and the more recent memes inspired by the United fiasco. On the one hand, should we be taking these things more seriously? On the other hand…

    Scrolling through Instagram to see the…

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    A Circle of Uncertainty and the Blessed (Interruption of) Assurance

    A Circle of Uncertainty and the Blessed (Interruption of) Assurance

    I almost called this post “The Cage of Anxiety,” but that seemed a little hokey. Still—playing off Auden’s poem is as good a place as any to start a discussion on anxiety, which was what Nitsuh Abebe does in the recent First Words essay for the New York Times Magazine:

    In 1947, W.H. Auden published a very long poem that, despite winning a Pulitzer Prize, is now remembered less for its contents than for its title: “The Age of Anxiety.” Something about the idea that an age can be anxious must resonate deep in America’s cultural bones, because the phrase has been…

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    Another Week Ends: Humility, Hypocrisy, Kendrick Lamar, the Museum of Failure, the Bard of Suck, Late-Night Comedy, and "Slipping the Ideological Leash"

    Another Week Ends: Humility, Hypocrisy, Kendrick Lamar, the Museum of Failure, the Bard of Suck, Late-Night Comedy, and “Slipping the Ideological Leash”

    1. Popular depictions of Christianity, especially political ones, often prioritize joy, love, kindness, and — almost always — resolution. “The firm foundation.” But as Peter Wehner says this week in his surprisingly sympathetic NY Times op-ed, humility is often missing. Strange, considering this might be one of the few indisputable characteristics of the otherwise enigmatic Christ. Talk of spiritual fruit, though, gets tricky and usually spins off into a tirade of ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ without addressing what is. Wehner aptly navigates these snares:

    At the core of Christian doctrine is the belief that we have all fallen short, that our loves are disordered and our…

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    Sharks in the Water: In the Event of a Failure (on Good Friday)

    Sharks in the Water: In the Event of a Failure (on Good Friday)

    I come from a pretty competitive family, so it should have been no surprise to find them enjoying the latest season of Shark Tank. Of this show’s many seductions — the edge-of-your-seat deliberations, the outlandish pitches (looking at you, Pinot Meow) — the biggest hook may be the sense of judgment hovering throughout each episode: a trembling entrepreneur stands up and pitches his or her idea before a squad of potential investors — the sharks! — who decide whether or not the business is worth their money.

    The show’s producer, Mark Burnett, made an appearance at Unpolished 2015, an entrepreneurship conference described by Mya Frazier in her recent Bloomberg article, “What Would Jesus Disrupt?”…

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