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Social Science

In Defense of Thoughts and Prayers

In Defense of Thoughts and Prayers

Tragic school shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida this week are becoming an all-too-common occurrence in our culture. Ubiquitous screens and news outlets surround us as we encounter these tragedies, in a second-handed fashion, in a strange collective way (only those directly affected can experience them). As with any repeated and communal form of storytelling, the presentation of the events in the media take on a familiar, almost ritualistic form. As different as the various tragedies are, their presentation to us can seem more and more the same. Familiar breaking news graphics, talking heads, pundits and policy advocates are…

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Befriending Our Nightmares: How to Move When We Feel Stuck

Befriending Our Nightmares: How to Move When We Feel Stuck

At some point in your life whether as an adult or a kid, you’ve probably had someone tell you that the monsters and scary things in your nightmares aren’t real. But considering that roughly one third of your life is spent in the dreamscape (and if you daydream like me then two thirds), they are actually very real.

In my child and adolescent therapy class last week, we learned how to help kids who are stuck in the same dream night after night make a “nightmare book.” The idea behind this approach is that if you give a child a sense…

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Womansplaining: A View from the Second X

Womansplaining: A View from the Second X

When I was pregnant with my first son, I spoke to a close friend who had given birth just a few months before. I was looking for reassurance and advice, and she told me that though having a newborn was hard, it did make her feel like she and her husband were on the same team.

A few weeks later I sat on the couch holding my newborn baby boy. I was crying. I didn’t know why. All I knew was that I didn’t feel like the person I had been before, and that my husband looked like a stranger too…

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Push Notification Masochism: Killing Ourselves & Boasting in Our Busyness

Push Notification Masochism: Killing Ourselves & Boasting in Our Busyness

This one was written by Brad J. Gray.

Twitter’s no longer on my phone. Yep, I deleted it. I’m not saying that so you can see how much better I am at self-control than you are. (I know my own heart enough to know for sure that’s not the case.) Nor am I saying that to sound super-spiritual or Puritanical in my devotional walk with God. I did it because I needed the break. Mind you, I’m not leaving the social platform altogether, neither am I about to wax eloquent about the inherent evils of using such a medium as Twitter….

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The Romance of Ash Wednesday

The Romance of Ash Wednesday

This year Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday happen to be kissing cousins. On the same day that people everywhere will purchase bear stuffed animals holding hearts that say, “I love you beary much,” people will also have ashes smeared on their heads as a person whispers to them, “You are dust and to dust you shall return.” 

It is an odd coincidence. And it provides endless opportunities to “get creative” with the liturgy. You can grind up pink chalk and smear the rose colored dust onto the faithful while pushing a pink heart into their foreheads. You could just…

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God Does Not Love Me Because I Am a Christian

God Does Not Love Me Because I Am a Christian

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis poignantly observes that all of history is “the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” He’s making a sweeping macro-scale statement (and he’s right), but even ignoring the broad narrative, we see it play out in our own lives nearly every moment of every day. We have fallen natures, and our own contentment, security, and happiness are the places we see this nature most intimately. I am never aware of my own sin more than when I am made to see that in which…

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Incomplete Math and the Paradox of Grace

Incomplete Math and the Paradox of Grace

Achilles: “Well, the best way I know to explain it is to quote the words of another old Zen master, Kyōgen. Kyōgen said: ‘Zen is like a man hanging in a tree by his teeth over a precipice. His hands grasp no branch, his feet rest on no limb, and under the tree another person asks him: “Why did the Bodhidharma come to China from India?’ If the man in the tree does not answer, he fails; and if he does answer, he falls and loses his life. Now what shall he do?”

Tortoise: “That’s clear; he should give up Zen,…

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Pity, Compassion, and the Emotional Prison Where She Kept Her Parents

Pity, Compassion, and the Emotional Prison Where She Kept Her Parents

To be loved is to be known, the saying goes. Or as Tim Kreider memorably puts it, “if we want the rewards of being loved we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known.” This is what we believe makes God’s love so miraculous, so fundamentally gracious.

Of course, when it comes to other human beings, this kind of thing is risky business. Because getting to know someone in all their unkempt reality, i.e., beyond the surface facsimile, often provokes a feeling opposite to love. The problem comes when we think we know someone fully but don’t, as is…

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Individualism, Community, and Kafka

Individualism, Community, and Kafka

This post, first published on our site in 2008, remains a timely critique that cuts straight to the heart! Written by David Browder:

If one is to enter any sort of seminary situation or spend time in any form of Christian subculture, that person will encounter two things. They are two sides of the same coin. One is “community” and the other is Western individualism. The first (one is told) is good, and the second is bad. I have been doing some thinking on both and would like to publicly “air” out what I have come up with. Perhaps the reader…

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Mixtapes from Anyone Who is Not Your Husband: Sounds of Earth and Heaven

Mixtapes from Anyone Who is Not Your Husband: Sounds of Earth and Heaven

There are facts about my story that will never change this side of heaven, barring total tragedy in some cases. And forgive me for saying so, but while the permanence of many things in this life is blessed, that same permanence can also be awful.

FACT: I will always have my two children. Praise Jesus, and also holy hell. Until the day I die, I will always be worried about them, responsible for them, and expected to put their needs before my own. The full weight of this appointment as “parent” is overwhelming. And again, excluding some unspeakable event, this will…

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Truly Beyond Deserving: Remembering Dorothy Martyn

Truly Beyond Deserving: Remembering Dorothy Martyn

This past weekend I learned that the pillar of grace known as Dr. Dorothy Martyn died after suffering a stroke at her home in North Carolina. An accomplished child psychologist (of the Freudian persuasion), Dorothy possessed a rare gift for helping the sufferers of the world, and I include myself in that number. We talk a lot about “grace in practice” on here. Dorothy Martyn was grace in practice. To me at least.

Every other week for about five years, I would drive out to the home she shared with her husband, Pauline scholar Louis Martyn, in Bethany, CT, where she…

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Behind the Veil

Behind the Veil

This one was written by Andrew Taylor-Troutman.

“You may kiss the bride,” I said in my preacher voice just like I always did. This time the groom actually paused as if seeking permission—but not from me. He looked hesitantly at the jailer standing over his right shoulder. She nodded. So he dove in!

“Alright kids,” the jailer intoned after a few moments. Maybe that’s how jailers always talk. But this one had been smiling the whole ceremony.

~

I am a pastor’s kid, which affords insider’s perspective. So I have known for as long as I have been aware of such ceremonies…

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