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From the Church Issue: 13 Signs of Bad Pastoral Care

From the Church Issue: 13 Signs of Bad Pastoral Care

Another glimpse into our Church Issue, which is out now! If you haven’t gotten one, order it here. If your beloved but painfully awkward pastor/therapist hasn’t received one, subscribe them here.

How many times have you needed a shoulder to cry on, and got cold moralism, instead? How many times have you dealt the flip side of that same coin? Here is a list for anyone who has ever received counsel or has ever given counsel and wondered what went wrong. They are a paraphrased version from Frank Lake: The Man and His Work, by John Peters, and were compiled by…

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Book Review: Falling Into Grace by John Newton

Book Review: Falling Into Grace by John Newton

Most of what lives on bookstore shelves marked “Christian” should actually be marked “Self Help with the Name Jesus Thrown In” (I’m looking at you, Osteen). But John Newton’s latest book, Falling Into Grace: Exploring Our Inner Life with God begins not with us climbing the corporate ladder to the Kingdom, but with us falling. In fact, Newton makes it pretty clear from the beginning:

“This book is an invitation to let yourself fall. It’s a reminder that because you’re already home free from the beginning, any fall can always be a fall into grace. And so don’t expect to find within these…

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Misunderstanding, Misunderstood: The Sylvia Plath Who Wrote For Children

Misunderstanding, Misunderstood: The Sylvia Plath Who Wrote For Children

At 17, I read The Bell Jar. After grimacing through the suicide attempts, the shock therapy sessions, the nervous breakdowns, and the general darkness, I closed the book, appreciated the work, and then thought, “Damn. This woman was crazy.”

At 21, I thought my life had become The Bell Jar. I felt the same suffocating dread Plath expressed in her characters’ fears of “settling.” I wallowed in my failures, was crippled by indecision, felt misunderstood, tired, and nervous. About everything. Plath was my female masthead, unapologetically vocalizing every one of my rite-of-passage fears with poetic authenticity.

Then, just last week, my English major survey…

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Religious Isolation and the Ridiculousness of Play

Religious Isolation and the Ridiculousness of Play

I’ve been meaning to post some quotes from Jack Miles’ interview with The Sun for a while now, but somehow it’s gotten lost in the shuffle. It’s from the March issue on religion. Miles, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer and ex-Jesuit, discussed the current fear of commitment in America (of which he, as a vow-breaker himself, is admittedly a part).

When asked about the recent Pew Research results, which show that young people are turning away from religion, and which we’ve blogged about at length, Miles says:

Yes, I’ve seen those numbers. Some claim that religion has faded because its dogma is contradicted…

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Don’t Look Now But Your Concept Is Creeping

Don’t Look Now But Your Concept Is Creeping

It’s a pretty common conversation among parents of young children. Clichéd even. Usually starts with a reminiscence about what things were like when we were kids:

“Can’t believe I was allowed to ride my bike to the library by myself when I was 7.”
“In summer I’d leave the house after breakfast and not come back home ’til it was dark”.
“A classmate of mine and I walked to school every day of first grade, no chaperone.”
“When I was a kid, parents weren’t allowed to stay to watch T-Ball practice–and they didn’t want to.”

The next part of the conversation involves indignation about how such actions would…

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The Absolutely Fabulous Canterbury Cathedral

The Absolutely Fabulous Canterbury Cathedral

When I was a kid my parents had pretty strict rules about what we were allowed to watch on television. There was no Full House or Double Dare. And Blossom was totally out of the question. I spent my middle school evenings watching Nick at Nite. So there was a lot of Dragnet and Green Acres. Also, my Dad would, on occasion, let me watch Absolutely Fabulous with him.

Retrospectively, it wasn’t exactly Mr. Rogers. If you have never watched AbFab, then get to work. It’s a show about two drunken, pill popping, ludicrous characters named Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone…

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Tidy Lies and Messy Truths in Flaked

Tidy Lies and Messy Truths in Flaked

In a few recent Netflix shows, Will Arnett plays existentially ambivalent and sometimes despondent characters with alcoholic tendencies. He voices the title role in Bojack Horseman, an animated series centering on a maladjusted former TV star who’s going broke and doesn’t know how to engage in a meaningful relationship. And in the more recent Flaked he plays Chip, an exemplary community member with a colored past, basically killing time before the lease runs out on his furniture store in Venice Beach. He produces both shows and has a larger hand in the creation and writing of the latter, which claims AA…

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Failed Evangelist

Failed Evangelist

This comes to us from our friend Emily Skelding. 

I’m a terrible evangelist.

I have never once, not ever, converted anyone. I am suspicious of emotional altar calls after a sermon that starts at a whisper and ends with shouts.  I’ve never wandered a Florida beach converting a hungover college kid. In fact, I doubt these transformations. They ring tinny to my ear.

Sometimes I’m not sure if I even qualify as a born-again Christian.

Still, I cling to the idea of rebirth. God’s grace, the process of God holding my cracked soul to make it healed and whole, carries me through life’s…

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That’s the Law, Baby

That’s the Law, Baby

Since I’m a parent of two small children, I watch a lot of crap TV. (This is, to be clear, different from the crap TV I used to watch of my own volition. See left.) And by “watch,” I mean, “check my phone/read while the kids watch.” But recently a plot point of an episode of Octonauts caught my attention. Please stay with me–I promise at least the potential of relatability.

The animal adventurers (I guess there’s a submarine? And they’re in some version of the Navy? Or something?) stumbled upon their twice-per-episode sea creature, and this particular example was…

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Cords of wool in the EU Colors

String Theory, Shoestring Theory, and Your Entry in Modern Jackass Magazine

In 2010 Kathryn Schulz, a journalist for the New Yorker, wrote a book called Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. This passage comes from that book, and describes a phenomenon we know all too well: that we pretend to know something that we, in fact, don’t know anything about. Maybe we lay out the chief causes of the Flint, Michigan water crisis because we skimmed a Washington Post story on it. Maybe we throw out some statistics about incarceration in America–statistics even we didn’t know before they came out of our mouth. Maybe we describe to our spouse how he/she should water the fig plant….

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The Limits of the Self in King Louie’s Temple

The Limits of the Self in King Louie’s Temple

“Oobee doo! I wanna be like you! I wanna walk like you, talk like you, too. You’ll see it’s true—an ape like me can learn to be human too!”

While some of the story has been changed or updated since the 60s, one thing you absolutely can look forward to in the new Jungle Book is a snazzy rendition of the song, “I Wanna Be Like You,” sung by King Louie, the ape who wants to be human. Where in the old Disney movie King Louie was an orangutan, in the new version he takes on the form of a Gigantopithecus, a…

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Parenthood: What it Means to Make Magical Oranges

Parenthood: What it Means to Make Magical Oranges

This past weekend my husband and I headed home from the best theological conference we have ever attended. Simply put, Mbird NYC 2016 wonderful. We ate every meal with friends, walked around New York City holding hands, and felt the profound relief of God’s Grace.

Then we came home to our kids. And they woke us up at 5am.

There was a time early on in my son’s babyhood when I realized his every move felt like it was cramping our style. We couldn’t see our friends anymore and we were spending all of our cash on Target diapers. And contrary to…

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