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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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Innocent Bystanders, Assemble! The Viewer’s Perspective in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Innocent Bystanders, Assemble! The Viewer’s Perspective in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

This reflection comes to us from Tim Peoples.

I’m no hero, and that was brought home to me in a three-month binge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (twelve films and three TV series…thanks very much, Age of Ultron marketing!).

Several works in the MCU follow a wider cultural trend of the deconstruction of the American male (ht DZ at the Love, Suffering, and Creativity conference), which shows us how low our anthropology should be. For example, the Iron Man trilogy is mostly about Tony Stark’s attempt to atone for war profiteering, and the third installment even provides a post-Iraq/Afghanistan meditation on post-traumatic…

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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, and still is, the magnificent Garrison Keillor.

To say that I loved Garrison Keillor with all my heart would be an understatement. I grew up on Public Radio in Mississippi. Which means that as a child I heard loads of classical music and Morning Edition. And while this was likely good…

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A Tale of Two Podcasts

A Tale of Two Podcasts

I recently went back to work (does one day a week count as going back? I say YES!) and, with a thirty-minute-minimum commute each way, wondered how to make the most of my hour spent in the car. I wanted to use the time effectively–productively, even–because, as a parent of young kids, I look at blocks of alone time much like Gollum looks at the ring.

After completing and singing the praises of Serial, I searched for another podcast that could fill my commute and leave me more informed than when I ambivalently climbed into the car that morning, tears both blurring and…

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Serially Forgiven

Serially Forgiven

I realize I’m late to the party, but I recently devoured the podcast Serial over the span of six days. (I also recently discovered what podcasts are, that they are free, and that I can use them to drown out the whines of my two children while driving around town–my version of Riding in Cars with Boys.) As the mother of two young children, I’m used to being late to all parties these days, if attending them at all. But I had become clued in to the addictive nature of the Adnan Syed story by inescapable zeitgeist (for me, this consists of…

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“This American Life ” – On Re-purposing Our Monuments of Shame

This American Life ” – On Re-purposing Our Monuments of Shame

There was a great story on NPR’s “This American Life” this week.  Back in 1999, on an annual list of 354 U.S. & Canada Cities, Kankakee, Illinois was voted the worst – number 354. The criterion included crime rate per capita, climate, unemployment rate, etc. When the list came out, David Letterman (a nearby Indiana native) felt some compassion for Kankakee, knowing that they had (like a lot of Mid-West towns at the time) lost a lot of lot key industries in the 90’s, leaving the town a shell of itself.  The last thing he felt that the town needed…

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You Gonna Clean that Up?…”I. Just. Can’t.”

You Gonna Clean that Up?…”I. Just. Can’t.”

A friend of mine who is working the 12 Steps recently said, “one of the most important things I do every morning is make the bed after I get up”. He went on to say that this simple discipline sets a tone for the day. This seemingly mundane task says, “I care about my life, I care about the people around me, and what I do matters”.

I thought about my friend’s comment this week when I listened to a podcast conversation between comedian Marc Maron (on a Dec 2014 episode of his WTF weekly podcast, h/t B.I.C.) and his longtime…

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My Way is a “Crap Song”: Reflections on Regret

My Way is a “Crap Song”: Reflections on Regret

Say what? I was out for a jog this week and I had to stop, take out my earbuds to squeegee out my ears with my fingers, hit rewind, and hear that again. Did Ira Glass just disparage Frank Sinatra? Ira Glass is the creator and executive producer of NPR’s weekly podcast “This American Life”. I was made privy to this can’t-miss weekly series by this Mockingbird post a while back, and I’ve been riveted every week since.

Each week’s podcast features 3 segments of real life Americana stories that are centered on a basic (and usually innocuous) theme. The December…

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Serial, Contradictions, and the Jesus Stories

Serial, Contradictions, and the Jesus Stories

The Gospels are full of contradictions. There, I said it. Take, for example, the differing accounts of the resurrection. In Matthew, the two Marys – Magdelene and Jesus’ mom – are at the empty tomb, greeted by an earthquake and an angel. In Luke, Joanna and other unnamed females are added to the mix, and they see two angels, rather than one. According to John, it is Mary Magdelene only, and after running to fetch Peter and John (the author), she sees Jesus, although she mistakes him at first for a gardener. Mark ends most strangely, with the two Marys and someone…

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