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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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Confessions of a Grace Bully

Confessions of a Grace Bully

This confession comes to us from Scott Brand.

Recently, I decided to move from Orlando to St. Louis for school. During the transition, I stopped for a week in Columbus, OH, to stay with my parents in the house in which I grew up. Most of my family still resides in Columbus, and, for the last five years, I haven’t been able to visit home very much. It was a good time to reconnect and catch up with cousins, aunts, and uncles, as well as begin the process of making my nieces not terrified of the bearded monster that insists on…

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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt. 3: How Much Is Too Much?

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt. 3: How Much Is Too Much?

This is the third installment of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem. To start from the beginning, go here. To read the second installment go here. 

When the people feared that Moses had abandoned them to die in the desert, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make for us gods!” and from their jewelry Aaron forged a golden calf, and they worshipped it.

Wayne Rauh and his wife D’Ann own eighty Dodge Vipers, including one that is painted gold, “the only gold Viper in the world.”

It’s likely the Rauhs have spent well over $7 million for their Vipers and…

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Prerequisite to Dignity of Purposelessness

Prerequisite to Dignity of Purposelessness

Sometimes I get the willies from vocation conversations, and I think this is why: Whatever the formal definition is, in practice “vocation” seems to be a mash-up between purpose and career—like, two of the most intimidating topics did the dirty and gave birth to this mutant problem child that ill-equipped young adults like myself must adopt wholeheartedly, or else.

I’m not opposing vocation itself, which could theoretically be beautiful, but rather our application of it, from which a few problems arise: the first, covered in more detail by Will, is that we—definitive failures—feel like we aren’t allowed to fail in whatever line of work…

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Of Death & Southern Comfort: The Making of an Everyday Priest

Of Death & Southern Comfort: The Making of an Everyday Priest

Walking through an abandoned rent house and seeing the ruins of former tenants is an exercise in human connection—archaeology of life, or the privation of it. In nearly twenty years, I haven’t often found deep meaning in getting a house “rent ready,” but I find myself being taken in by the nihilistic futility of Rust Cohle as I traverse from one scene of archaeological ruin to the next. Nothing draws these connections as powerfully, though, as when the ruins are left in a tenant’s wake even though their earthly body still blocks the house’s front entrance. This just happened a…

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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt. 2: The Collapse of Human Civilization

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt. 2: The Collapse of Human Civilization

This is the second installment of author Ted Scofield’s series on “everybody else’s biggest problem.” If you missed his introduction to the series, you can read it here. New installments will be posted every two weeks, on Tuesdays.

“The United States has become a greedier, meaner, colder, more selfish, and more uncaring place. This is no wild inferential speculation but, rather, the informed consensus of the American people.” – James Patterson & Peter Kim, The Day America Told the Truth

“James Patterson is an American author with a net worth of $350 million … Patterson earned $90 million in the last 12…

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Letters from Old Boxes: Searching for a Wild Love

Letters from Old Boxes: Searching for a Wild Love

Two years after moving into our house, my husband and I have finally unpacked. We got through all the easy stuff first: kid toys, old clothes, books that we will never actually read. And then we began to deal with the heavier stuff of life. Which astonishingly seems to come in the form of papers.

There were photographs from prom (his) and programs from earnestly bad high school theatre productions (mine). We found our first driver’s licenses and concert tickets. But mostly, there were pages of letters from old boyfriends. There was correspondence in that box that went from 7th grade crushes…

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Ines Boubakri of Tunisia, left and Nicole Ross of the United States compete in the round of 32 during women's fencing at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Saving Face: the Relational Politics of “I Don’t Know”

This post was co-written by Samantha McKean and Kristen Gunn. Sam is a student at Duke Divinity School, where she’s realizing what she actually does and doesn’t know. Kristen is heavily into words and why we say them, which is how this conversation became a post.

Sam: I say “I don’t know,” a lot. It’s a filler, a tic, the new “um” or “like” that your Com101 professors warned you about. It comes tacked onto the end of my sentences like sad parade banners. Most of the time, I don’t even notice I’m saying it.

I have a friend who always calls…

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In a World of Suffering, the “And Yet”

In a World of Suffering, the “And Yet”

Well, Modern Love’s Daniel Jones is certainly not on vacation. This past Friday’s installment of our favorite relationships column was a heat-seeking missile into the dark depths of marital skepticism. Surprisingly, though, the article does not object to marital skepticism–it normalizes it. Ada Calhoun writes about her own 10+ years of marriage and the difficulties that quickly skimmed off the fluff of most wedding toasts you hear–“I will never let you down,” “You will always be my best friend,” etc. Strangely enough, Calhoun indicates the inherent optimism of these kinds of toasts as part of the problem. We feel entitled to their sentiments, so much so…

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Check, Please!

Check, Please!

Being a college student means asking for separate checks at restaurants. Generally, my friends and I wait until the end of the meal to say, “Oh yea, could you split those up by the way? Yeah that’d be great, thanks,” as if it was an afterthought and the waiter/waitress had no idea what was coming all along. In truth, splitting up checks is pretty annoying. It means more buttons pressed and cards swiped and pens gathered, and I do often feel pangs of guilt asking servers to do it. But generally they’re accommodating, and they know what to expect when…

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Everyone Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt 1: An Introduction

Everyone Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt 1: An Introduction

Very excited to kick off a series of posts from Ted Scofield, author of the novel Eat What You Kill (soon to be a major motion picture from the acclaimed producer of Wall Street, American Psycho and many other films). Ted was a featured speaker at our 2015 Spring Conference in New York City, which is also where he and his wife, artist Christi Scofield, reside. Here comes the introduction:

“Slam Dunk”

I thought I had a slam dunk. No, I knew I had a slam dunk, and I told my editor so.

Two consistent data sets, with tantalizingly disconnected conclusions and implications….

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New York Tenements and the Green, Green Grass of Home

New York Tenements and the Green, Green Grass of Home

As a young person in New York City, one of my favorite spots was the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. Through touring actual old tenement apartments, the museum tells the difficult and often tragic story of 19th century immigrants to Manhattan.

I loved it because it felt like they were telling my story. As strange as it may sound, when we moved to the Big Apple I felt as though I had landed on another planet. At the time I was a 24 year old befuddled Mississippian who cried (often) standing in front of Subway maps.

Of course, my problems…

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