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Social Science

Psychomachia, 8-Balls, and Alien Righteousness

Psychomachia, 8-Balls, and Alien Righteousness

This one comes to us from RJ Coburn.

Psychomachia is the name given to the common trope found in movies, television, and comic strips when a character is dealing with temptation. Two versions of his or her self appear, an angel version and a devil version. Commonly, the devil is on the left shoulder (or standing on the left, if shown as a full-sized person) and the angel on the right. This represents the battle of the soul, or as Homer tells Lisa on an episode of The Simpsons, “Inside every man is a struggle between good and evil that cannot…

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Praise the Lord: I Saw the Light (this Advent)

Praise the Lord: I Saw the Light (this Advent)

Its official, men are no longer sure what they can say. Last week an elderly gentleman complimented my outfit and then promptly recanted and apologized. Little did he know that as a 35 year old mother of two zoo animals, I actually appreciate being told I look nice. Nonetheless, I suppose we will all just stand around and not interact. That should take care of everything.

The surprise and outrage are jarring to me. Who finds it surprising that this has happened? That sexual deviancy is rampant? That women, still relatively new to the workplace, have been treated horribly?…

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When Whitney Houston Writes Your Prayers

It’s that time of year again! Oh, you thought I was talking about the holidays? Nope, I’m referring to the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, known as Engagement Season: the month and a half where your social media feeds seem to consist solely of diamond rings and “YES!!!! I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend!!!! #helpweneedaweddinghashtag.”

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love engagements and weddings, maybe a little too much. I will stop whatever I’m doing to scroll through engagement photos or watch a wedding video, and I’ve been planning my own imaginary…

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Go Gently

A beautiful reflection on family and the Advent season by Andrew Taylor-Troutman.

And we think that we can’t write that for which we do not have words but actually sometimes you can if you go gently between the words. Brian Doyle

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. Isaiah 9:2

It is a week before Christmas and I tell my oldest son: “It is a big responsibility to be a big brother.” This three year old stares at me blankly from across the room, then continues playing with the nativity scene strewn across the floor in a mishmash of…

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The Mockingcast Rides Again!

Exciting news: we’ve just dropped the first new episode of The Mockingcast in eight months, complete with fresh artwork and music (ht JAZ), as well as the debut of new co-host RJ Heijmen! Among other subjects, David, Sarah, and RJ talk Disneyland, church aunts, harassment, male libido, Advent, and the difference between justice and revenge.

Click here or on the image above to listen and/or subscribe. And remember, our feed changed over the hiatus, so if you think you’re already subscribed, you may not be. (Oh and the iTunes reviews and ratings didn’t survive the hiatus either, so if you feel…

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When Joan Didion Cries into a Food Fair Bag

When Joan Didion Cries into a Food Fair Bag

I suppose it was only a matter of time before I found myself infatuated with the likes of Joan Didion (whose chain-smoking charms I put off for so long). She’s at last become inevitable. Along with her recent Netflix documentary and her brief epigraph in Lady Bird, her recently resurfaced essay “On Self-Respect” was nothing short of a pleasant surprise (ht JR). Originally commissioned as a last minute addition to a 1961 issue of Vogue, its parameters (legend goes) were not an exact word count but an exact character count. As you’ll see, the lasting emotional heft of this short essay…

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Masculinity in Crisis: Unexamined Libidos and the Organizing Principle of Lady Bird

Masculinity in Crisis: Unexamined Libidos and the Organizing Principle of Lady Bird

If it’s true what Stephen Marche writes in The Unmade Bed, that there’s nothing less manly than talking about manliness, I’m not sure where that leaves me. After reading Marche’s latest column in The New York Times, “The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido,” I realized I’m averaging one essay per year on the subject:

Underachieving Boys and the Masks Men Wear
Online Males, Deadbeat Females, and the Simplest Thing in the World
Are You Man Enough? When Virile Was a Compliment
Please Help The Cause Against (Middle Age Male) Loneliness

It’s some of the stuff I’m most proud of, to be honest, partly because…

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Bad at Love

This one was written by Anna Nott.

I am convinced that I, perhaps along with a good portion of the rest of the world, continue to listen to Halsey’s hit “Bad at Love” for more than just the fact that it’s super catchy. The lyrics are profoundly confessional, stating:

I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe
that we’re meant to be.
But jealousy, jealousy, jealousy, jealousy
Gets the best of me.
Look, I don’t mean to frustrate, but I
Always make the same mistakes, yeah I
Always make the same mistakes ’cause
I’m bad at love!

When she sings, “I believe that we’re meant to be, but jealousy gets…

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The Humanity of Harassment

I’ve been trying to find a way in to writing about the rash of Hollywood headlines, and sexual harassment more generally, and may have finally found one. Don’t think I wasn’t tempted to take Sarah Silverman up on her question–the key question, as far as I can tell, but also too important of one to broach in haste, or before we’ve all had a little longer to absorb the gravity and breadth of the situation.

That is, it feels like any pronouncements at this point, theological or otherwise, would be premature if not insensitive, possibly even a way of avoiding the…

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What If I Never Change?

What If I Never Change?

Sydney is currently seventeen hours ahead of my beloved EST, the time zone occupied by my former homes of New York and Atlanta. Funny how waking up so many hours ahead can leave me feeling so far behind.

Most days our king-sized bed holds three to four people by the time of my sons’ circadian-induced awakening around 6 am. Our older son is burrowed underneath the covers between us, his feet unfailingly within inches of my face, and our younger boy is typically planted on the pillows between my husband and me, or upon my husband’s chest, telling the “lazy…

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Thanksgiving: A Personal History

There were the countless Thanksgivings of my childhood spent in the Mississippi Delta. There’s nothing better than farm country in the fall. Harvest has happened and deer hunting season is in full effect. I remember the adults being cavalier with their joy. I would sneak beers, and I once almost lit my Memaw’s house on fire when I was playing with matches. That was not all in the same year.
Once, in high school, my mom decided we should get up at East Jesus in the Morning and drive to the Baptist Mission Church in downtown Jackson to feed the homeless a Thanksgiving…

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PZ’s Podcast: Motivate!

EPISODE 238

This is a short talk on motivation and love. What motivates a person to do something — to REALLY do something. As opposed to remaining endlessly exhausted and trapped, within a cycle of inner conflict and desuetude.

As usual in PZ’s Podcast, love is the answer. But how? And why? Karl Barth’s decisive mistake is exposed — without animus. Parishioners’ failed self-knowledge, let alone my own failed self-knowledge, is exposed — by experience.

You have to start with experience. It doesn’t mean you have to end there. But you have to start with your own experience.

Simeon Zahl never tires of saying…

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