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Secret Demodogs and (Spiritual) Black Holes: Stranger Things 2 Loses Its Innocence

Secret Demodogs and (Spiritual) Black Holes: Stranger Things 2 Loses Its Innocence

Spoilers galore in the following look at the latest season of the Netflix series.

A Christian take on the new season of Stranger Things begins and ends with Eleven and her relationship to Hopper. That relationship—its ups, its downs, and its upside downs—becomes the beating heart of this season.

When we last saw El, she’d proven herself a worthy Jesus figure. She was mysterious, a charismatic mediator between the known and the unknown. What’s more, in the first season finale, she sacrificed herself to the Demogorgon before a well-placed box of Eggos hinted that the tomb was empty. But, at the risk…

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Patton Oswalt's Good Grief

Patton Oswalt’s Good Grief

This one was written by Aarik Danielsen.

“You gotta laugh to keep from crying.”

This is what passes for conventional emotional wisdom in 2017. And not without reason. Our moment feels, politically, psychically, and spiritually, like a stage play complete with buffoonish characters, bizarre stage directions and metaphors willing to do tasteful nudity. If we didn’t turn to the audience and wink at the absurdity of it all, we would never open the curtain.

And yet this logic is no logic at all. Love is patient and kind; it is not rude or self-seeking. Grief makes no such promises. It will not be…

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Portal Guns, Talking Horses, and the Future of TV Comedy (Part 2)

Portal Guns, Talking Horses, and the Future of TV Comedy (Part 2)

Too long for one post, we’re looking at the advent of the “sadcom,” a unique TV comedy developed over recent years. Sadcoms are shows that find humor in the debauched and dysfunctional lives of lead characters, punctuating that wildness with sincere moments of sympathy. For a longer breakdown, check out part 1, with a review of BoJack Horseman‘s season four.

It’s worth asking how we got to this place, where alcoholic horses and mad-scientist grandpas become critically acclaimed television for adults. It’s a question that Elizabeth Bruenig’s write-up “Why is Millennial humor so weird?” worked to answer last August in the…

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What Happened After Mister Rogers Visited Koko the Gorilla

What Happened After Mister Rogers Visited Koko the Gorilla

A lot going on in this wonderfully upside-down excerpt from the profile of Mr Rogers that Esquire ran in 1998, the sort of thing that if it hadn’t actually happened, no one would believe it. A beautiful reminder that grace and law do not follow a linguistic formula, thank God, ht G&AP:

Once upon a time, there was a boy who didn’t like himself very much. It was not his fault. He was born with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is something that happens to the brain. It means that you can think but sometimes can’t walk, or even talk….

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Portal Guns, Talking Horses, and the Future of TV Comedy (Part 1)

Portal Guns, Talking Horses, and the Future of TV Comedy (Part 1)

On the TV front, two new seasons of Mockingbird favorites are now out for your viewing pleasure. Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty just finished its third season, with Nielsen knighting it the most popular comedy on television, and Bojack Horseman’s fourth season is now available for binging on Netflix. Both shows are regulars in our “best of TV” columns each December, occupying a fair amount of Mockingbird HQ water cooler chitchat. It’s a little silly to think that TV shows featuring an alcoholic super-genius grandfather and a washed up 90s sitcom-star horse garner critical acclaim and commercial success, but that’s…

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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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