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The Alt-Right Are Zombies. Stay with Me.

The Alt-Right Are Zombies. Stay with Me.

Think about it. They are wandering the streets. They want to destroy those who are not like them. They are screaming for blood. And they are obviously terrifying.

Christians have put out responses all over the map on this one. Tina Fey (a churchgoing Lutheran) has suggested we yell our anger into sheet cakes. Many of my colleagues have taken to the streets to show great love in the face of hate. Also, word on the street is that Beth Moore is pissed at these guys, too.

Believers are rightly upset. Racism is undeniably a sin. And apparently the alt-right missed the…

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A Message from Christ Church in Charlottesville

A Message from Christ Church in Charlottesville

As a follow-up to his recent sermon, here is the message Rector Paul Walker sent to his parishioners at Christ Church in Charlottesville—relevant for all of us left shocked and dismayed by the events of last Saturday.

Dear Friends,

Evil is not a word to be used lightly. But it is a word that is squarely within the canons of Christian scripture, theology, and tradition. If you have participated in one of the many baptisms at Christ Church, you will have heard  the minister ask the following question to the parents and godparents of the baptismal candidate. “Do you renounce the evil…

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When We Were Young: A Story of America

When We Were Young: A Story of America

Back in the summer of 2004, roughly fifteen months after the United States invaded Iraq, I sat in the United States House of Representatives, high in the balcony on to the right of the lectern for he who stood at it, and listened to Colin Powell speak to a chamber full of congressional interns. It was a hard time for the United States. The Bush presidency and the invasion of Iraq had led to a sense of national division as great as we had experienced in my lifetime, and certainly since the Vietnam War. I tried to remain aloof and…

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Football At Last: A Preseason Preview

Football At Last: A Preseason Preview

NFL preseason games start next week….

The airwaves are crackling hype at the advent of NFL team summer camps. Every year, about a million young men and a hundred or more young women play tackle football at every level. They’re all starting the season about now. 

Fewer than 2,000 of those players are in the National Football League. The NFL is a forced marriage of sports and show biz, but it’s our only national platform for those of us who are hopelessly devoted to a sport that changed our early lives. Having played, coached, and been a part of a son’s…

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People Are Dying in Texas and I Am a Lucky Schmuck

People Are Dying in Texas and I Am a Lucky Schmuck

As a Southern transplant to New York City, riding the subway during rush hour was the most jarring activity of the week. After a long day of work, people were ready to get home and order some takeout. In the summer, everyone smelled bad, me included. Train after train would pass with no room for the crowds to get on. There was always an air of chaos and immediacy that I haven’t experienced in any other setting.

After a few months of this daily trial, I begin to notice the shift that would happen in myself as I…

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The Tempest of Ancestry.com

The Tempest of Ancestry.com

I can talk to just about anyone about just about anything. Gallbladder surgery. Grandchildren’s precociousness. Train schedules. Weather patterns. But, I do have one achilles’ heel: ancestry narratives. As soon as someone starts talking about their third great-grandfather’s cousin twice removed, and how that person fought in the battle of Waterloo, my eyes glaze over and I start to sniff out the exit. I just … can’t.

I think this reluctance started when we lived in Williamsburg, Virginia, where everybody seems to have some colonial something-or-other, and I was just known as the gross Yankee that married the bachelor priest. (The…

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Flight or Fight? Grace in the Face of the Freak Show

Flight or Fight? Grace in the Face of the Freak Show

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed. We are in a strange season: Russia, Healthcare, Special Investigating, Trump Mania are in a screaming Opera of Hatred. Cable TV, the Internet, dinner parties (dinner parties!) are amped up to the point where you can just shut down. Coping with work, kids, spouse—whatever else there is, your mission is often now in overload mode. This may be the Era of Being Overwhelmed—especially in politics. The response to all this overload is to feel threatened by it, and so anger is our default mode.

We can fight the sense of…

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Eat Your Fancy Sandwich

Eat Your Fancy Sandwich

It’s obvious that David Brooks really struck a nerve with his most recent op-ed regarding sandwiches. I mean, as a huge fan of sandwiches, I understand. There’s nothing better than a great sandwich—I’m eating a chicken salad sandwich right now. And while I wouldn’t fight for much, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for a nice chipotle mayo or garlic aioli.

Brooks’ sandwich illustration, if you haven’t read it, is a picture of a wider problem, though. He’s talking about classism, the widening gap in the middle class between those who can afford the best for their progeny and those who get…

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Freedom's Just Another Word

Freedom’s Just Another Word

The first time I heard an Aussie ask “How are you going?” I thought he wanted me to give him directions, which is hilarious because I know how to get to, like, three places here. Then I realized I was being presented with an alternative to our American phrase “How are you doing?” And I decided that I really liked it.

There’s a chance I’m taking idioms too personally here, but my journey through faith has been like this: religion to grace. Javert to Valjean. Imperative to indicative. My early years of preoccupation with behavior—to my idea of God as the…

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Happy Independence Day: You're Not Free

Happy Independence Day: You’re Not Free

When, in the course of human events, it become necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with one another…wait, that sounds familiar. Has someone said that before?

Those, of course, are the first words of the Declaration of Independence, the document that led to the American freedom from Great Britain that we’re celebrating this weekend. That freedom—and really, every freedom—is how we’ve come to define ourselves. We call ourselves “the land of the free,” don’t we? And we’re not alone. Every people longs to be free. From the Second Virginia Convention at St. John’s Church…

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From the Archives: What I Didn't Do On My Summer Vacation

From the Archives: What I Didn’t Do On My Summer Vacation

Lately there’s been a considerable dearth of David Zahl on this site, wouldn’t you say?! So here ya go. The following article goes out to anyone strapping a cargo shell to the roof of his or her car this weekend. From our archives, this one remains as prescient and timely as when DZ wrote it back in 2013:

It’s official: leisure has gone the way of the leisure suit. At least according to an excellent “long read” by Jenny Diski in The New Statesman, “Learning How to Live”, which explores the question of why we find free time so terrifying. If…

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Chill, dummy—It’s Only Life or Death

Chill, dummy—It’s Only Life or Death

The first time I saw an audience simultaneously discomforted and reassured was at a P.O.S concert. After he sang one of his new songs, “Wearing a Bear,” he explained that the goofy dance he did at the end was for the day of his death (#ripPOS). He had done a different dance at every show because he wanted his tribute to be thousands of fans doing various goofy dances and posting them to social media.

P.O.S is the stage name for Stefon Alexander. As P.O.S, Alexander has released 4 punk-infused hip-hop albums and has achieved prominence in the underground rap community—especially…

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