New Here?
     
Social Science

Coram Deo: Dust, Ashes and Grace  

Coram Deo: Dust, Ashes and Grace  

This one was written by Nico Ghibaudy.

Sin weighs a ton.

Or at least it feels that way. We are easily deceived in moments of weakness. It’s easy to allow the cinderblock of post-sin guilt to outweigh the infinite joy we have in the presence of God. Guilt feels heavier. Turning to Jesus in the aftermath of a sinful fall is like a child looking his parents in the face after he was told not to draw on the wall with colored markers but did it anyway. It’s hard to look our Father square in the face and admit that we…

Read More > > >

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: American Idol

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: American Idol

Welcome to the seventh and final installment of act three of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem but your own.  If you missed one or more of the previous installments, the entire series can be found here.

Everybody worships … idols. Last time we reached this inevitable and undeniable conclusion, and in it hides the definition of greed.

Everybody worships idols.  At first glance you may disagree, but recall that worship need not involve a supernatural being.  Merriam-Webster defines it as “extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem <worship of the dollar>.”  Dictionary.com says it’s “to feel an adoring reverence or regard for (any…

Read More > > >

Grace in Goofiness

Grace in Goofiness

This piece was written by Carrie Willard.

My parents have three daughters and a son. We girls were, and are: rule-followers, studious, somewhat-to-highly anxious, bookish. Two of the three of us skipped a grade and became valedictorians of our high school classes, while the other was the salutatorian, and all of us were the kind of students that teachers would leave in charge of the class when they had to step out in the hallway for a moment. My brother, on the other hand, might have been the reason that the teacher had to step out for a moment, most likely to…

Read More > > >

Lively Perspective from a Malodorous Corpse: Christian Liberty in Swiss Army Man

Lively Perspective from a Malodorous Corpse: Christian Liberty in Swiss Army Man

This one comes to us from contributor Josh Encinias:

Repellent as its non-stop farts, bone crackling, and other embarrassing bodily functions are, Swiss Army Man joins a new tradition of movies, beginning with Jean-Luc Godard’s film Goodbye to Language and Todd Solondz’s Wiener-Dog, that force the viewer to dig deep for empathy, accepting foibles of human will as humanity’s default mode. Otherwise, in these movies as in life, you will come away with a deeply cynical, solipsistic view of humanity. This movie may not be for everyone because of its purportedly divisive qualities, however, they are mostly joke fodder and background noise, masking the old story of death and…

Read More > > >

The Secret to Long-Term Relationships: Insanity?

The Secret to Long-Term Relationships: Insanity?

We’ve all been there. You say something to a friend or family member or spouse that seems innocuous. “Have you seen my sunglasses?”. “I may have to postpone our lunch.” Or maybe you do something thoughtless but minor. You forget to return an email. You borrow a piece of clothing without asking. The response you get is vicious–way out of proportion with whatever you’ve said or done.

This happens with alarming frequency in relationships, especially romantic ones. Soon both parties have shifted into “combat mode” and the conflict has escalated to painful heights. Your action or comment has triggered something significant in the other party, what psychologists…

Read More > > >

From the Archives: In Praise of Guilty Pleasures

From the Archives: In Praise of Guilty Pleasures

I brought two books with me on vacation last week: a collection of Jonathan Franzen essays and the recent Dark Tower prequel by Stephen King. One guess as to which one I read. That’s right: both books stayed shut as I inhaled 20 or so Batman comics on my iPad and caught up on Beach Boys message boards. Guilty pleasures in other words.

So upon returning to the world of ‘serious’ reading I was pleasantly surprised to discover a wonderful little piece in The New Yorker by critic Arthur Krystal, tracing the history and appeal of literary guilty pleasures. He touches…

Read More > > >

Hollywood Teaches Us How to Be Good Friends: A Much-Belated Review of The Intern

Hollywood Teaches Us How to Be Good Friends: A Much-Belated Review of The Intern

I inwardly sighed last week when my wife suggested that we watch the 2015 Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway comedy The Intern on HBO Now. One has to admit there are problems with the film’s setup.

Robert De Niro plays Ben Whitaker, who is a retired, widowed, 70-year-old who spent 40 years climbing the corporate ladder at a telephone book publisher. He applies for a “senior internship”* offered by a hip start-up, About the Fit, which has set up its open-office, iMac- and MacBook-heavy workplace in the building where Ben’s factory used to make the now-obsolete phonebook. Ben gets assigned to the company’s…

Read More > > >

For When I Am Strong, Then I Am Weak

For When I Am Strong, Then I Am Weak

I have a beef with the editors of Modern Love, and it’s not just about their polite refusal of my recent submission. It concerns a recent episode of their podcast, a reading of a column published almost seven years ago written by a woman who “saved” her marriage by refusing to suffer her husband’s rejection. By refusing to suffer, period.

The author of the piece, Laura Munson, recounts her husband’s mid-life crisis that spawned this rejection, and the announcement he made that he was leaving her and their children. What follows would read to many as an inspirational tale of…

Read More > > >

Our Daily Liturgies: An Excerpt from Bed and Board

Our Daily Liturgies: An Excerpt from Bed and Board

Returning to an Episcopal Church during college after some years worshiping in different traditions, I was surprised that the various creeds and dictums came back to me quickly. It was so assuring to hear the words that I had been so familiar with growing up, finding them still there in the recesses of memory. When the pastor said, “Hear these comfortable words” after the Confession and the Prayers of the People, the scripture then, and also the familiar liturgy throughout, really were that to me: comfortable words. Dwelling on them in content was important, no doubt, and a few teaching series I’d…

Read More > > >

When the Solution Isn’t a Solution

When the Solution Isn’t a Solution

It’s only July, I know, but the 2016 Podcast Episode of the Year can already be announced. I wish I could give the nod to The Mockingcast or PZP (“Ecumenical Apocalypse” tied with “Cook’d Book” for runner-up, and Gladwell’s “The Lady Vanishes” took bronze), but alas, top honors go to Invisibilia’s “The Problem with the Solution”, which first aired this past Friday, ht CWZ & LM.

The cast takes a lengthy look at a place we’ve written about a couple of times before, the town of Geel in Belgium, where instead of being cooped up in a facility mental patients live…

Read More > > >

Limping Into the Sun: Frank Lake on the Spiritual Battle of Jacob

Limping Into the Sun: Frank Lake on the Spiritual Battle of Jacob

Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and…

Read More > > >

Calling a Thing What It Is: Ruminations by Lemony Snicket, Pt 1

In anticipation for Netflix’s 2016 adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events (no release date as yet), we’ll be posting a wonderfully pessimistic Snicket quote every now and again–a consistent dose of reality (and compassion) for the suffering. The following comes from The Wide Window:

There is a way of looking at life called “keeping things in perspective.” This simply means “making yourself feel better by comparing the things that are happening to you right now against other things that have happened at a different time, or to different people.” For instance, if you were upset about an ugly pimple on the end of your nose, you might try to feel better by keeping your pimple in perspective. You might compare your pimple situation to that of someone who was being eaten by a bear, and when you looked in the mirror at your ugly pimple, you could say to yourself, “Well, at least I’m not being eaten by a bear.”

You can see at once why keeping things in perspective rarely works very well, because it is hard to concentrate on somebody else being eaten by a bear when you are staring at your own ugly pimple.