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Kicking the Dog: The Not-So-Subtle Art of Displacement

Kicking the Dog: The Not-So-Subtle Art of Displacement

This begins a short mini-series on the wide world of defense mechanisms—how you and I do our very best to cope with the realities of pain.

We all have our defense mechanisms. In psychodynamic terms, these are the ways our egos fend off stressors—situations or circumstances or, you know, very very rarely, people that conjure realities we just can’t handle. Sometimes these stressors waylay us with personal condemnation, sometimes they demolish a sacred belief we hold dear, sometimes they are random, traumatic events. Other times, the stressors aren’t bad: there’s an exciting new career opportunity or it’s a busy time of…

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#MeToo, and You

#MeToo, and You

My fingers hovered over the keys, wondering whether this was the right or wrong thing to do. Forty years’ practice keep me coming back to this default: not the nuanced, winding halls of grace but the black-and-white certainty of law. I considered and weighed, and I posted.

There are three memories right off the top of my head, and who knows if more lurk beneath? Time continues to march on, though I gave it no such permit to do so, and it’s been around twenty years since the last one: a “friend” who wouldn’t hear no and proceeded to force me…

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The Foolish and the Weak are Confounding the Wise and the Strong...Yet Again

The Foolish and the Weak are Confounding the Wise and the Strong…Yet Again

If you haven’t watched any of Austin Rogers’ first 12 Jeopardy wins (running currently), you’ve missed seeing the most money amassed over a 12 day period (over $400k) in Jeopardy history. Rogers is a bartender from Manhattan. Do yourself a favor, and start setting your TiVos and DVRs, and treat yourself to a master. It’s not what you think, though. Rogers is tremendous at trivia, but he’s even better at poking fun at the Jeopardy Intelligentsia. Take the last 4 episodes for example (through Oct 11). While being introduced, Rogers has mimed making a martini, solving a Rubik’s Cube, and…

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Idealistic Hackers and My Personal "Change the World" Project

Idealistic Hackers and My Personal “Change the World” Project

In preparation for Mr. Robot’s third season (premiering tonight), here’s a fantastic piece by Rebecca Florence Miller.

I’ve always wanted to change the world. As a child and young woman, I longed to serve as a missionary, perhaps translating the Bible for those who had never heard of Jesus. I dreamed of traveling to other countries and teaching English as a Second Language. As a teen, I longed to convert people to all kinds of different things, like being pro-life or Republican or just to being a Christian. Now, I live in a constant state of trying to engage in civil…

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BYOTissues: This Is Us is Back

BYOTissues: This Is Us is Back

Obligatory *spoiler alert!*

On Tuesday night, the Emmy Award winning drama This Is Us returned to NBC, and it did not disappoint. I absolutely anticipate that I will be reduced to a puddle of tears every #TissueTuesday—yes, that’s a thing—this fall as the storyline repeatedly rips my heart out.

Our reunion with the Pearson triplets began with their thirty-seventh birthdays, harkening back to the season one premiere, and a lot has happened since we last saw them. Kevin and Kate have moved to LA to pursue their acting and music careers, respectively, and Kate is still engaged to Toby. Randall remains on…

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The Preacher Goes to Fashion Week: Jim Carrey's Gospel Madness

The Preacher Goes to Fashion Week: Jim Carrey’s Gospel Madness

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

God, in his mercy, sends preachers. Some are well-educated and institutionally-approved folk serving the faithful in fine old churches, but in these last days we should take no alarm that the same Lord who spoke through Balaam’s ass might again choose an eccentric instrument. His preachers are not necessarily welcomed even under ordinary circumstances – indeed, the urgency of the need and the warmth of the reception seem often enough to have an inverse relationship. Again, this should not surprise, because the preacher’s first word is a word of law,…

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My Big Sick: When A Diagnosis Threatens to Define Us

My Big Sick: When A Diagnosis Threatens to Define Us

Over here in Sydney, the eclipse didn’t occur, and a 14-hour time jump from the East Coast means I actually often receive current events updates on a delay (while lying in bed reading them on my phone at 6am). The weird FOMO/day-ahead mentality, where my daylight is your nighttime, renders me disoriented; I feel as though I’m watching the world from a distance, as a bystander to all things America. The break from that most patriotic of traditions, the 24-hour news cycle, has been healing for me: in the absence of bottom-of-the-screen news tickers, I can choose when and how…

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Heroin in the Hymnals

Heroin in the Hymnals

There is a moment deep into Netflix’s underrated Ozark (spoilers below), where the raising of a cross atop a church emits ripples of fear, as if recreational Missouri were ancient Rome. Whatever the show’s imperfections, I submit that restoring a sense of the scandal of the cross to America’s Bible belt is a considerable accomplishment. For the most part, the sex and violence in this show is more narrative tool than titillation – though I do wish there had been less of it. Even so, while most critics have fallen into lock-step complaint that Ozark is not Breaking Bad, I…

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Faith of Thrones

Faith of Thrones

There are already scores of recaps of Game of Thrones season finale readily available online (see this fine one from NPR for starters). I feel no compulsion to add to the already abundant list. But there was something that stuck out to me that is worth a little reflection. It’s something that has characterized the entirety of the series but of late, for me at least, has become more pronounced. The genre of Game of Thrones is of course fantasy, and like most fantasy stories it’s set in a premodern world. The technology, culture, and religion all seem pre-modern through…

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Everybody Touch Somebody: Glory & Grace in Last Chance U

Everybody Touch Somebody: Glory & Grace in Last Chance U

The very first shot of the second season of Netflix’s documentary series Last Chance U shows a hot Mississippi sun peeking out through trees. The second shot is of a small church near the rural town of Scooba. The third shot is also of a church, while the audio of a preacher addressing his congregation plays as a voice-over. “As the coach watched himself on that screen, he didn’t like what he saw” expounds the voice-over, referencing the show’s first season. “Can you imagine if a documentary was made about your life? And they followed you, the good the bad,…

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Architects, Madmen and Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death

Architects, Madmen and Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death

Freud, Kierkegaard, and the drug lord Heisenberg…A free peek into the Love & Death Issue, which people continue to tell us is their favorite issue thus far. Here is Ethan’s piece on the classic, Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death. If you subscribe to the magazine, and add the code JESSEPINKMAN in the notes section of your order, we’ll send a free copy to a friend of your choosing.

And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone…

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When God Leaves It Unresolved

When God Leaves It Unresolved

As it goes when its 90-plus outside and no body of water is cold enough to cool you off, much of my time the past few weeks has been spent on the couch, in the air conditioning, streaming television. Lately, Hannah and I were recommended the crooked-cop show, Line of Duty, and in the past couple weeks we have sped through three seasons. It’s a terrific show, the best kind of cop show, where the dialogue is smart and the plot twists are both conceivable and completely unforeseeable. As expected, we start with one episode in mind and, bleary-eyed and…

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