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Flannel Antinomians and a Satisfaction Guaranteed

Flannel Antinomians and a Satisfaction Guaranteed

If the pattern keeps going, we’re going to need Ethan Richardson to write volume two of This American Gospel. Ira Glass and crew at This American Life have given us some of our favorite stories and sermon illustration over the years, and episode 591’s exploration of LL Bean’s return policy joins the ranks. If you need a frank discussion about the role of antinomians in 2016, look no further.

Check the glossary for a fuller treatment, but the short spiritual definition of an antinomian is someone who, after encountering the Gospel of love and forgiven sins, “goes rogue” with the “un-Christian…

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The Good News of Knowing Nothing

The Good News of Knowing Nothing

I used to be a connoisseur of television, my DVR filled with hour-long nuggets of narrative brilliance, my Netflix recommendations apt reflections of a carefully-curated viewing history. Then I had kids and grew exhausted and, in the late hours of the night (read: 8-10 pm), developed a preference for more fun-sized and less emotionally-involving small-screen moments. I also began to receive more of my entertainment on the run, on the drive to my son’s preschool or during laps on the track at my gym, which is why podcasting opened up a welcome form of media diversion. Recently I caught the…

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For When I Am Strong, Then I Am Weak

For When I Am Strong, Then I Am Weak

I have a beef with the editors of Modern Love, and it’s not just about their polite refusal of my recent submission. It concerns a recent episode of their podcast, a reading of a column published almost seven years ago written by a woman who “saved” her marriage by refusing to suffer her husband’s rejection. By refusing to suffer, period.

The author of the piece, Laura Munson, recounts her husband’s mid-life crisis that spawned this rejection, and the announcement he made that he was leaving her and their children. What follows would read to many as an inspirational tale of…

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Tony Hale’s Awkward, Silent Prison

Tony Hale’s Awkward, Silent Prison

Tony Hale, who played Buster Bluth on Arrested Development and who we talked to in a 2009 interview called “Tony Hale Controls the World!”, sat down with Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air” last week. They discussed his role as Gary Walsh on HBO’s hit series Veep, which wrapped up its fifth season on Sunday. Here are some highlights.

During the interview, Hale didn’t shy away from admitting that he has a knack for playing anxious characters. He talked about his personal experience with anxiety, and his experiences with prayer and faith in response to it.

GROSS: You’ve said in the past that you…

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Nothing Weirder Than Honesty

Nothing Weirder Than Honesty

This one comes to us from Zac Koons:

An Appreciation of “You Made It Weird With Pete Holmes”

There’s a lot about Pete Holmes’s podcast that might put you off. For starters, episodes of “You Made It Weird” are long—like, Lord-of-the-Rings-long—and even more unwelcome perhaps, they’re almost entirely unedited. Its premise (comedian interviews comedian) doesn’t promise anything out of the ordinary, and he breaks almost every imaginable rule of interviewer etiquette: he indulges tangents, his research is from Wikipedia, and he constantly interrupts his guests to regale them with stories of his own. And then there’s his laugh, which is constant, lasts for…

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Not So Simple Math: The Story of the Prodigal Mother

Not So Simple Math: The Story of the Prodigal Mother

If you were driving on Mother’s Day just before 9am, maybe to breakfast or church, there’s a good chance you heard NPR’s reading of a story from the Modern Love Podcast, “A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s Adoption: ‘My Greatest Accomplishment & Deepest Regret’” (from January) (and voiced by one of my favorite actors, Sarah “Last Man Standing” Paulson, of American Horror Story). It’s about a young woman whose unplanned pregnancy leads her to give up her son for “open adoption,” an arrangement which gives her the ability to interact and have a relationship with him but not actually raise him.

In…

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The Sultry Sounds of Vin Scully and the “Jack Rabbit Resurrection”

88-year-old Vin Scully has been doing Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers’ games for 60+ years. He’s always been the “Garrison Keillor of Sports Broadcasting” – weaving yarn after yarn between pitches to keep listeners engaged (the vast majority of his work having been on radio). In this, his final season, Scully has become a social media phenomenon with this true tale he told in a Giant-Dodger game last week. Madison Bumgarner (pitcher pictured here) and his wife, are the story’s hero/heroine:

Unexpected Help from the World of Xanth

Unexpected Help from the World of Xanth

A few weeks ago, NPR’s episode of This American Life was called “Show Me the Way,” (a rerun from 2012) and it focused on stories of people in trouble who sought help in strange places. The main story was about a fifteen-year-old who, feeling antagonized by both his stepfather and his high school, walked himself eight miles to the airport and then flew off to Florida using several years’ worth of paper route money in search of Piers Anthony, his favorite author.

Xanth, the fantasy kingdom in Piers Anthony’s books, looks remarkably like Florida, and fifteen-year-old Andy used the maps in…

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Forgive Yourself, or Die Trying

Forgive Yourself, or Die Trying

Unless it has been replaced, the men’s room mirror at Manning’s Cafe in Minneapolis is a little worse for wear. Not broken, but scratched and pitted, and midway across the bottom the words are indelibly scrawled, “Forgive Yourself.” No telling who wrote it or how long ago, even less what they meant. Was it a pep talk from a weary (and likely inebriated) soul to his own downtrodden self? An encouragement to others? I know a former seminarian (no few have closed down Mannings at 2 am) who was observed, on occasion, to absolve half the room–did someone take offense? Whatever the intent, the message…

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Serial Season 2 and the Second Prodigal Son

Serial Season 2 and the Second Prodigal Son

While ancient near east history lessons may add layers to the text, the basic story of the Prodigal Son– a father’s love for his two wayward sons- is easily accessible across millennia. The heartwarming first half of the parable, with the angry runaway’s return to his unexpectedly gentle father, transcends time. Who has ever lived and not longed for a paternal love like that?

And yet, the beloved first half of the parable is a setup for the second half’s word of judgment. The father’s grace divides the family, and as the party for the returned runaway kicks into high gear,…

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The Love We Can’t Believe Doesn’t Exist

The Love We Can’t Believe Doesn’t Exist

As we all know, love stories are often too good to be true.

On This American Life last week, NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, who now has his own podcast called Hidden Brain, tells the story of a love-letter scam created by a man named Don Lowry. In the 1980s, Lowry purchased the address lists of major men’s magazines and began sending catalogs advertising female penpals. Interested men could peruse this catalog of pretty girls, with photographs and extensive bios, and begin receiving letters and pictures for a subscription fee.

You might have an idea of what these pictures and letters…

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It Almost Kills You

It Almost Kills You

This amazing find in the world of Moth comes to us from Brooks Tate. 

Have you ever had this experience? You are driving, listening to talk radio, and you find yourself in the midst of the most remarkable story. Some voice is just talking and saying the most amazing things. You find that you’re being pulled into a trance…until, well, you arrive at the office or gym or wherever it was you were driving to, click off the ignition and keep going about your day.

I had this experience a few weeks ago. Twice. In the same weekend I heard the same…

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