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Social Science

Are You Man Enough? When Virile Was a Compliment

Are You Man Enough? When Virile Was a Compliment

The first two pregnancies, my wife and I opted not to find out the baby’s sex. There weren’t any strong convictions behind the decision–more a sense of enjoying the anticipation. On both occasions we left the delivery room with a healthy baby boy in tow, grateful as could possibly be. The third time around, however, as much as we cherish those two little rascals, we were hoping for a change-up. We wanted a girl, pure and simple, and so we went about collecting every theory we could find that promised to ensure such an outcome, no matter how ridiculous. That…

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UnREAL Season 1, Part 2: Death by Suicide, Death to Self-Pity

UnREAL Season 1, Part 2: Death by Suicide, Death to Self-Pity

This is part two in a series on UnREAL, a Lifetime drama returning for its second season on June 6. You’ll find part one here. Mega-super-nuclear-option spoiler alert: the following discloses the ending of the show’s first season.

Reality TV often has an ambience of controlled insanity. The contestants act in violent, conniving, or erratic ways, and one can legitimately wonder how many are (a) truly acting or (b) truly mentally ill. In the latter category, were they chosen because of their illness by cynical producers? Are the producers exacerbating antisocial behavior in mentally ill contestants, or are the producers (probably pleasantly) surprised? The uncertainty is…

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Full Disclosure: I Did Not Understand the Chewbacca Mask Lady Video

Full Disclosure: I Did Not Understand the Chewbacca Mask Lady Video

I did not get the Chewbacca mask video. I realize this says nothing good about me.

The lady in the video was funny. And seemed happy. She made a joke about her weight, which always pains me for women.  But still, try as I might, I have not been able to wrap my brain around the why of it. Why we were all watching it and why did we all feel the need to share it? A day after it was released, there was one pervasive assessment:

We loved this video because it reminded us of joy! Everything on the internet is…

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The Culture of Narcissism, Part One: Politics and Personhood

The Culture of Narcissism, Part One: Politics and Personhood

This is the first in a four-part series inspired by Christopher Lasch’s 1979 book The Culture of Narcissism.

In the present presidential contest, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal was the first person to say it out loud, to use the “N” word for Donald Trump. That’s right, he called Trump a narcissist. Specifically, in his news conference on September 10, 2015, Jindal said, “Donald Trump is not a serious candidate. He’s a narcissist. He’s an egomaniac. The only thing he believes in is himself” and expounded on the meaning of this description for nearly ten minutes. Harsh words, indeed; but I do…

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The Surprising Relief of Being Wrong – Ethan Richardson

The one we’ve all been waiting for… With what may have been the single most memorable line of the event (any guess?).  Thank you again to Mark Babikow for producing!

The Surprising Relief of Being Wrong – Ethan Richardson from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

On #Adulting and Mail-Order Food

On #Adulting and Mail-Order Food

This post comes to us from real-life grown-up, Ben Maddison.

A friend of mine, a Gen-Xer if you’re into imprecise but incredibly accurate labels, asked me the other day why Millennials (myself included) have so much difficulty becoming adults.

From Girls to Awkward to The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to pretty much any media depiction of 20-somethings, Millennials seem incapable of getting their lives together. Maybe they are overly-coddled, prone to engaging in social drama, or kept in a bunker for fifteen years by a guy who claims he started the “Buy the World a Coke” advertising campaign. Whatever the reason, there seems…

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Angels with an Incredible Capacity for Beer: A 1986 Interview with Brennan Manning

Angels with an Incredible Capacity for Beer: A 1986 Interview with Brennan Manning

Before The Babylon Bee, there was The Wittenburg Door, a satirical Christian journal with some serious humor–a cartoon called “Dogs Who Know the Lord”, fake news headlines, a Theologian of the Year (with winners like Xena Warrior Princess and Mister T)–all pointed in cornball fashion at the Church and its bizarre inner- and outer-workings. Our mentor and spirit-guide Robert Farrar Capon was, in fact, a “Keeper of the Door”–he started a column series he called “Pietro and Madeleine,” a theological love story (of sorts). But The Door, as it later became known, also did some very serious interviews. In these interviews, they were both just playing…

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You Take It, and You Say Thank You

You Take It, and You Say Thank You

This one was written by our friend, Carrie Willard.

A few years ago, we (my husband, two young sons and I) lived in a house that was very cute, but sometimes not very practical. Our refrigerator, for example, was tiny. And the more I fed my growing family, the more I craved a little more space. I went on a search for a “garage fridge”–that ubiquitous Midwestern appliance where people keep extra beverages, garden surplus, food for parties, etc. I found that even dormitory-sized refrigerators were outrageously expensive, and so when I found a gently used refrigerator at the neighborhood garage…

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Faith, The Future & The Frightening Reality Of Online Dating

Faith, The Future & The Frightening Reality Of Online Dating

Human being is storied being. We find meaning in our present according to where we’ve been and where we’re going. This is why a condition like PTSD is so devastating. By making the traumatic past ever present it robs a person of the ability to narrate their own story or even sometimes to have much of one.

A recent little piece by theologian Peter Leithart reminded me just how central the tug forward is for us if we’re to live anything like a meaningful life. Leithart points out the curious fact that, at the end of the book of Revelation, the heavenly city…

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Call Me Aaron Burr, Sir

Call Me Aaron Burr, Sir

During a 1995 interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, Pat Conroy related a story about his father, Don, that epitomized the patriarch’s delusional view of identity. The two men were discussing why Pat’s mother left Don when the elder Conroy broke down sobbing. Thinking that Don had finally realized the error of the ways, Pat quoted the ensuing conversation to Gross: “‘Dad, do you understand what you did wrong?’ And Dad said, ‘Yes.’ And I said, ‘What is it, Dad? What did you do wrong?’ And my father said, ‘I was too good. I didn’t crack down hard enough. I was…

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Dan Ariely on Traffic Jam “Altruism”

Dan Ariely on Traffic Jam “Altruism”

This from his new advice-column book, Irrationally Yours. Ariely sees the contradiction implicit in our own self-regard when stuck in traffic, or, you know, everywhere else. As Jesus said, let not the hand steering the wheel know what the hand directing merging vehicles is doing. Or something like that.

Dear Dan, 

Often as I creep along in a traffic jam, someone inevitably tries to enter my lane from the side. Now here is the issue: If I let the car in, I feel good about it. But when I see others in front of me let someone in, I feel cheated, because I’ve been…

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How to Succeed Without (Looking Like You’re) Trying

How to Succeed Without (Looking Like You’re) Trying

On a road trip last week, I caught up with the new season of Gimlet Media’s fantastic Start-Up podcast, a series that does exactly what you might expect, chronicling the ups and downs of getting a new company off the ground. To open their third season, which debuted only a couple of weeks ago, they decided to depart from previous go-rounds and withhold the name of the company being profiled. In order, one presumes, to amplify the suspense and shortcircuit any bias the listener might have up-front.

Clever move. As soon as a company “makes it”–especially in Silicon Valley–there’s a tendency…

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