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Why Richard Rodriguez and I Keep Taking Our “Inner Atheists” to Church

Why Richard Rodriguez and I Keep Taking Our “Inner Atheists” to Church

Maybe novelty is the currency of the blogosphere—but then again, maybe not. Sometimes the brightest-shining gems come out of an old closet at your grandparents’ house (or in this case, an old box of $1 books at a library sale).

It may be old (we’re talking last decade—you know, back when Pluto was a planet and “the Facebook” still had an article in front of it), but Richard Rodriguez’s essay “Atheism Is Wasted On the Nonbeliever” deserves to be talked about. Especially by those who claim to believe in something. Or are claimed by something to believe in, of whom I…

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England's Jo Potter (L) consoles teammate Laura Bassett after she scored an own-goal in the last minutes of the game giving Japan the win in their semifinal match at the FIFA Women's World Cup at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Canada on July 1, 2015.   AFP PHOTO/GEOFF ROBINS        (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

The Upside-Down Notion of an “Absolute Hero”

This week’s sports post comes from Mockingbird contributor Jonathan Adams:

Like (I’m sure) many of us, these past few weeks I’ve been dutifully doing something that I literally never do – watching women’s soccer on TV. I’ve been watching the US matches in the World Cup. I don’t claim to know much about soccer, but I concluded after watching the US in their semi-final match against Germany that (to my very untrained eye) the US team is a “team”. They communicate well and seem to have each others’ backs. They’re super fun to watch. And yes, I may have a pink…

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Chris Farley and the Tragedy of Splitting

I just watched the trailer for the upcoming Chris Farley documentary and nearly bawled on my desk. His work was a huge part of my childhood and, for my money, there have never been better SNL skits than Matt Foley or funnier movies than Tommy Boy. What a tragic loss.

The trailer revealed that this poor man fell victim to what some have called “splitting”: the living of two lives, ever more separated – one an idealized, “super” version of self and the other a dark brew of one’s less admirable traits (what Paul Zahl refers to as “the boys in the basement”). Chris Farley always had to be “Chris Farley.” He couldn’t find a space to let down, tell the truth, not be funny,  and even as the expectations on his better self ramped up, the appetites of his shadow self increased in step, and finally claimed him. No one can be “on” all the time.

Chris was killed by the law of fame, and not God’s Law, but the lesson still holds. As long as we attempt to find approval and peace by living up to some unattainable ideal, we will inevitably split. The hope of the Gospel is that our darker self will be brought into the light, where it can be forgiven, loved, embraced, and integrated. Only grace moves us towards wholeness, a miracle which Christopher Crosby Farley never experienced.

Reviewing True Detective: “The Western Book of the Dead”

Reviewing True Detective: “The Western Book of the Dead”

I welcome judgment.

[Spoilers follow.] The opener of season 2 for HBO’s newest flagship seemed to do everything it could to distance itself from the expectations and tone of its first season. Where once we had the show’s reflective, philosophical voice from the haunted, brilliant, and wise Rustin Cohle, we get comic musings from a fraudish guru: “When we see the universe from God’s eyes” (to paraphrase), “it is meaningless… but God would not create a meaningless universe. Hold these ideas as true and equal.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Farrell’s sad musings – “Astronauts don’t even go to the…

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Focus Focus Focus! The Law of Attention in an Age of Distraction

Focus Focus Focus! The Law of Attention in an Age of Distraction

Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: You know you’re watching something good when it forces you to shelve your laptop. This was certainly the case this past Sunday evening, during the finale of a certain HBO fantasy drama. There are plenty of reasons why Game of Thrones gets such huge ratings, but one is surely the way it demands our full attention with its radical–and some might say overly antagonistic–plot developments. Yeesh.

It’s hard to tell when multitasking became our default mode of consumption, but it was at least a year or two before AMC started promoting their “two-screen…

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When Your Life Inevitably Falls Apart: Watching BBC’s Rev.

When Your Life Inevitably Falls Apart: Watching BBC’s Rev.

I have no idea why people watch Rev. I mean, my husband and I love it. But we are both clergy. So watching a show about an Anglican priest is cathartic. Our lives have been filled with weird churchy moments. We’ve had a Pentecostal Korean congregation secretly use our church at 5am for months without anyone knowing (I found them one morning on my way to spin class, like you do). And we’ve had parishioners walk right into our rectories (church owned housing) without knocking and tell us they didn’t like our paint color choices. Sure, there are moments of…

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Political Age Gaps and Grace in Cooking in My Grandmother’s Ravioli

Political Age Gaps and Grace in Cooking in My Grandmother’s Ravioli

The Pew Research Center recently released a study that showed results of something that I think we all have known anecdotally for a while: there is a significant and seemingly growing age gap between the two political poles in America. The study shows that the youngest generation, Millenials (18-33 years old in 2014), are increasingly more Democratic or liberal and the oldest generation, Silents (69-86 years old in 2014), are increasingly more Republican or conservative. Somewhat surprisingly, the study points out that this has not always been the case: two decades prior in 1994, the youngest generation leaned conservative and…

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Steph vs. Lebron: An NBA Finals Preview

Steph vs. Lebron: An NBA Finals Preview

I’ve lived in Atlanta for the last 24 years, but all of my formative years were spent in San Francisco and Ohio.   So I’m vested in and looking forward to the Warriors/Cavaliers match up for the NBA Championship, beginning this week.  It stung a bit that the Cavs literally squashed our Atlanta Hawks en route to the Finals, but even I couldn’t deny that Lebron and company not only were the better team, but also seem to have a destiny about them.  Meanwhile, out in Oakland, the Warriors don’t look like they have a weakness, and they definitely appear to…

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Folding (Dirty) Laundry with the Duggars

Folding (Dirty) Laundry with the Duggars

I have seen most episodes of the Duggar family’s 21 Kids and Counting. It is one of those odd reality TV shows that offers very little in the way of drama. And when something compelling happens, it is usually happy news like the birth of a child or a visit to the Today Show. Unlike my beloved Housewives franchise, 21 Kids and Counting doesn’t have any yelling or table flipping. It has been an easy show to watch while folding laundry.

But there’s something deeper than just its relative tranquility. I have always admired the Duggar family’s structure for righteousness. In…

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The Final Confession of Donald Draper

The Final Confession of Donald Draper

Spoilers, people, spoilers.

“I broke all my vows. I scandalized my child. I took another man’s name and made nothing of it.”

Thus goes the bottoming out we’ve been waiting for these past 7-8 years from Don Draper. His long dismantling, both self-instigated and otherwise, reached its endpoint in Mad Men‘s finale. Don’s marriage, his position, his children are gone–the various phone calls make that clear. Even his “niece” Stephanie refuses to let him be needed, going so far as to remove his last shred of agency, stranding him at the retreat center. Reduced to nothing, Don makes his confession to…

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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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Tim Tebow, Battle Creek, Nice Guy Displacement…and the NCAA Comeback

Tim Tebow, Battle Creek, Nice Guy Displacement…and the NCAA Comeback

All Tim Tebow does is win – NCAA Championships, Heisman Trophies, NFL Playoff Games, “guy I most want to date my daughter contests”, etc. He’s still looking for a job in the NFL though, because, even though he wins, teams don’t trust him. He takes too long to get rid of the ball and isn’t particularly accurate. In short, he’s the opposite of the NFL “prototype” quarterback. That’s a tough label to shake.

There’s a rumor this week that he may get another shot–as a third string QB for The Philadelphia Eagles and Coach Chip Kelly. Kelly worked out Tebow this…

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