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Go Gently

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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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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Bad at Love

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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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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Grace on a Gravel Road

Grace on a Gravel Road

By Andrew Taylor-Troutman.

One lazy afternoon when the light oozed in the air like honey, this old farmer told me that the school bus would come all the way down the gravel road to the driveway of the manse. He had stopped by to drop off Tommy Toe tomatoes from his wife’s garden. My wife and I had no children at the time. Six years later, our firstborn is getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall. But first we are moving away. I am about to begin a new call to another church.

***

The church I have served is…

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Lord God, From Even Our Motives, Save Us

This past Sunday was the kind of Sabbath that heals me. It was All Saints Sunday, my husband preached about my grandmother, and the church was full of loud children. During communion, a guy played “Amazing Grace” on the horn. It was a taste of heaven.

And then I turned on the radio in my car and heard about the horrific church shooting, just a few hours away from us, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. And then I turned the radio off.

My heart felt too full of heartache. The vision of babies being shot to death in a Baptist church was more…

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Portal Guns, Talking Horses, and the Future of TV Comedy (Part 2)

Too long for one post, we’re looking at the advent of the “sadcom,” a unique TV comedy developed over recent years. Sadcoms are shows that find humor in the debauched and dysfunctional lives of lead characters, punctuating that wildness with sincere moments of sympathy. For a longer breakdown, check out part 1, with a review of BoJack Horseman‘s season four.

It’s worth asking how we got to this place, where alcoholic horses and mad-scientist grandpas become critically acclaimed television for adults. It’s a question that Elizabeth Bruenig’s write-up “Why is Millennial humor so weird?” worked to answer last August in the…

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When Kiss Means Kill: Reflections on the Apocalypse of Language

“As the cool stream gushed over one hand, she spelled into the other the word water, firstly slowly then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motion of her fingers. Suddenly I felt the misty consciousness as of something forgotten—a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened by soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free… Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought….

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Performance-Based Culture Is Killing Us

Performance-Based Culture Is Killing Us

Grateful for this one written by The Rt. Rev. Scott Benhase, whose book Done and Left Undone: Grace in the Meantime of Parish Ministry hits in January.

When I preached at the closing Eucharist of our recent Cursillo on Sunday, I reminded participants that they’d just been gifted with a cross on which was written: “Christ is counting on you.” I told them (to a few gasps in the congregation) to please forget about that for now. They should rather be “counting on Christ.” Later, when they’re a bit more mature in faith, they might heed the words on their crosses, while…

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An Obituary from Beyond the Grave

With Halloween right around the corner, it’s the perfect time of year to remember the sobering reality that death comes for us all. Hooray! That’s the case for many as the streets fill up with ghosts, ghouls and zombies, though that certainly isn’t the case universally. In my neighborhood, the ghosts and ghouls are generally outnumbered by the hoards of Jedi, Avengers, and Disney Princesses that come with open pillowcases. For a master primer on our cultural denial of death, look no further than Ethan Richardson’s piece in the Mockingbird Magazine’s Love & Death issue.

While we may be in a…

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Stewards of Our Scars

Stewards of Our Scars

The following excerpt comes from Chapter 9, “Stewards of Our Scars,” in Chad Bird’s new book Night Driving: Notes from a Prodigal Soul.

In a Bible full of bizarre stories with bizarre endings, the account of Jacob wrestling the angel ranks among the more unusual. At the end of the narrative, we are given an odd little detail about the enduring legacy of Jacob’s struggle. Jacob was “limping because of his hip.” “Therefore,” the text adds, “to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the…

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Volunteering to Love My Kids and to Eat Donuts

Volunteering to Love My Kids and to Eat Donuts

This is the time of year when my email inbox becomes full of “invitations” for me to volunteer. We have our children in two different schools, with different ways of doing things. And there is a steady stream of electronic missives with subjects lines like: Fall Festival, Donuts with Dad, and Pep Rally. Which has got me thinking, aren’t women in my neighborhood thin enough? Why can’t we have donuts too?

It also has me wondering if I am the only mother completely overwhelmed by the onslaught of participation asks. It can feel that way. Is everyone signing up to bring…

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