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Summer Camp: A Vacation from the Real World

Summer Camp: A Vacation from the Real World

Telling an anxious, Type-A person, like myself, not to take herself too seriously is nothing more than a practice in futility. Nevertheless, I have heard this message three times in various forms within the past week. Even in the slogan on the back of a Yellow Cab: “Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.”

Whenever I hear people talk about being able to laugh at themselves, I automatically think of summer camp. I have spent eleven summers, sixty-four weeks to be exact, at Camp Merrie-Woode for Girls in western North Carolina. To give you some context, it is often…

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Consider the Grasshopper

Consider the Grasshopper

There are more than 11,000 species of grasshopper. The Acrididae family comprises about 10,000 of those species, accounting for nearly all grasshoppers in the United States. They’re harmless creatures, really. Plant-eaters, the lot of them, and many produce a gentle, familiar sound by rubbing the ridges of their hind legs against the edges of their forewings. They come in different shapes and sizes, and the color schemes on different species range from bland to beautiful.

Locusts, on the other hand, are not so meek. In fact, they exhibit terrible hostility and wreak legendary devastation. Often, where they go, famine and death…

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Parish Retreat at Buc-ee’s: Grace in Unlikely Places

Parish Retreat at Buc-ee’s: Grace in Unlikely Places

This past weekend, our church held its annual retreat. Due to the hellacious nature of traffic in our area, families arrived at the conference center at different times throughout the afternoon and evening, depending on their route and whether the traffic gods were smiling on them. This year, our family arrived pretty early in the evening (#grateful more than #blessed). After we unloaded our car, we were sitting around the campsite, and phones began to ding around us. It seemed that some of our church friends were stranded after a nasty car accident on their way to the retreat. Could someone…

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Playing it Safe with Consumer Reports

Playing it Safe with Consumer Reports

It’s taken a while to write this love letter. Consumer Reports has for 80 years now provided its readers with solace from the fear of getting it wrong. Its slogan, “Smarter Choices for a Better World,” says it all. Who doesn’t want to make smarter choices? And when it comes to consumer products, who doesn’t want to get a deal—or at least not screwed? When an entire display wall at the Walmart gives you 148 different plaque and tartar removal toothpastes, when your kitchen remodel is stuck between electric smoothtop and pro-style dual-fuel ranges, when you wonder whose frequent flyer…

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Valorized Intelligence and Less Profitable Truths of the Heart

Valorized Intelligence and Less Profitable Truths of the Heart

In recent news, CBS doubles down on eccentric male geniuses for its fall television lineup. One show, Pure Genius, treats us to an inside view of a Silicon Valley billionaire’s game-changing medical innovation; another, Bull, features the “brilliant, brash, and charming” titular consultant. And the MacGyver reboot, in addition to featuring an actor ten years younger than did the former series (!), snazzes up the clever factor, viz.,

electronics! What differentiates this slate from earlier hit shows (e.g., NCIS, Bluebloods) is its emphasis on intellect as the protagonist’s defining trait. Sure, our hero may commit the occasional social gaffe, exhibit some…

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The Difference Between the Minister and the Doctor

The Difference Between the Minister and the Doctor

I have always been a bit skeptical of the “comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable” adage deployed in many an evangelical circle. It’s not just the implicit condescension it lends to the ‘minister’ in any given moment. The main skepticism has to do with the supposition that anyone is actually comfortable in life–that, beneath the surface, all of us are experiencing some underlying discomfort with the world we’re inhabiting. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re all afflicted, and we all need comfort.

If this adage makes any sense, then, it’s that we sometimes need help facing ourselves. It’s that maybe the…

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Gchat Apologies and the Lonesome Cockpit

Gchat Apologies and the Lonesome Cockpit

In her new book, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, Sherry Turkle invests a lot of ink in the distinction between connection and conversation. This is a distinction already rife with commentary, on this site and others, that while connection is the term of choice for LinkedIn partnerships and Facebook “friends,” it is bankrupt when it comes to the real subjectivity present in a conversation between two breathing people. Turkle argues that this transition away from conversation is, in turn, bankrupting us of the real meaning of connection. With the growth of internet communities, relationships are…

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Welcome To My Neuroticism, I Mean, My House

Welcome To My Neuroticism, I Mean, My House

If you’ve ever embarked on a remodeling project, chances are you’ve found yourself–at some point–way in over your head, cheekily quoting Tom Hanks’s Walter from The Money Pit: “It’s going to be fun, fixing it up. You’ll see…A little imagination, and it’s gonna be great…” Little did he know…

The ups and downs of ‘making house’ were chronicled in The New York Times’ recent mammoth, “Making House: Notes on Domesticity,” by Rachel Cusk, which is all at once a cultural critique, a philosophy dissertation, and a comedy sketch (don’t miss the story about her ex-boyfriend’s table). Cusk’s article, primarily, is about the human impulses behind the urge to…

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Tough Love Lessons in a Year of Jail Ministry

Tough Love Lessons in a Year of Jail Ministry

Before even beginning this post, you probably noticed the one giant, smug asterisk that naturally attached itself to the title: *Oh goodness, that’s right. Can’t believe I forgot to tell you! I do jail ministry. NBD. I’d love to, you know, grab a beer and tell you more about it sometime…

Let me alleviate any forespoken superiority with a quick rejoinder: God did not equip me with enough confidence to throw “successful tips” out about much, and definitely not about doing jail Bible studies. I do not have tips. I am a “sensitive” guy, which does not exactly disqualify me from…

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Holy Forgetfulness

Holy Forgetfulness

I used to have a really great memory. It wasn’t the kind of memory that was featured on Dateline NBC, where people with photographic memory can recall very specific details of very specific dates in their lives. But I can remember details of very early events in my life, and my memory came in handy when I had to memorize facts and dates for tests in school. For as long as I can remember (heh), I knew that this kind of memory was a mixed bag – a blessing and a curse. I could memorize the multiplication table with very…

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Surviving November

Surviving November

As we come to the close of a particularly vicious election cycle, we bring out from the archives our “Surviving November” series from four years back. Based on Jonathan Haidt’s work, The Righteous Mind, DZ delves into the moral psychology of political strife, and what hope we might be able to gather in spite of it.

 

I. Political Divides, Intuitive Dogs, and Rational Tails

Maybe the non-stop and increasingly ludicrous “opposition ads” have started to make you dread turning on the TV. Maybe you can’t read your (predominantly pop culture-focused!) Twitterfeed without getting depressed about the dehumanizing level of partisanship being so casually…

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Back To School, I Mean Anxiety, I Mean School

Back To School, I Mean Anxiety, I Mean School

After months of swimming pools and sleeping late, the school year is upon us. For so many reasons, we rejoice in its arrival. The fall means that we get to reboot the family schedule. We buy a new day planner (if you’re a Technology Memaw like myself) and make dinners in the crockpot again. If you are lucky enough to go to one of those schools that requires uniforms, then by now you have spent a mortgage payment on tiny sailor dresses. It is all very exciting.

Also, the school year brings enough devilish anxiety to blow the roof off of…

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