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Psychology

The Best Natural Disaster There Is? In Praise of Blizzards

The Best Natural Disaster There Is? In Praise of Blizzards

The psychology around snow days is fascinating. Blizzards especially, like the one we experienced in Virginia over the weekend. For all they cover up, a massive snowstorm also exposes some less-than-fluffy sides of our species and culture.

If you’re like me, the snow days of childhood are cloaked in soft-focused wonder and excitement. A break from routine, a time to sled and build forts and drink hot chocolate. Like one of Riley’s Minnesota memories in Inside Out.

The snow days of adulthood are different. There is still beauty to be seen and fun to be had, walks to be taken, new recipes to…

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Frank Lake on God-Talk and the Power of Plainspeak

Frank Lake on God-Talk and the Power of Plainspeak

This comes from Frank Lake’s Tight Corners in Pastoral Counselling. In this section, entitled, “The Use and Misuse of Religion,” Dr. Lake discusses the age-old propensity of religion and religious language to become either a self-defensive shield between a person and their much-needed comfort; or, on the flipside, for religion to become the “bad thing” upon which all of their collective discomfort–past, present, and future–is projected. This is not the time for apologetics, Lake argues. In a time of such opposition, it is better to listen. This great story illustrates his meaning:

I never find myself threatened by hostility to religion in those who consult me: quite the reverse. The…

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From the Magazine: Our Interview with Nicholas Carr

From the Magazine: Our Interview with Nicholas Carr

A teaser edition of our interview with Nicholas Carr, the entirety of which can be read in the Technology Issue! You can subscribe to our magazine here.

In his book, The Shallows, which was a 2011 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Nicholas Carr talks about the internet’s re-wiring of the human mind. Like a number of well-regarded tech skeptics (Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman, Sherry Turkle), Carr argues that the way the internet presents information to us is changing the way we think everywhere else—in our jobs, in our free time, in our inner lives. Towards the end of his book, he…

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Kylo Ren and the Weakness of Love

Kylo Ren and the Weakness of Love

For those of you who’ve spent the holidays under a rock and have yet to participate in the global phenomenon that is The Force Awakens (or if you just don’t care), I promise that this little ditty contains no spoilers like the one some Sith Lord left on a stickie attached to my Han Solo mug.

Coming out of Star Wars, my youngest son asked me an interesting question: “Kylo Ren just really wanted to be bad, huh?” I thought it over for a moment and answered “no, he just really wanted to be powerful.” And this led me to an…

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Another Week Ends: Little Richard, Brand Luther, Star Wars, Marilynne Robinson’s Soul, and Identifying As…?

Another Week Ends: Little Richard, Brand Luther, Star Wars, Marilynne Robinson’s Soul, and Identifying As…?

Click here to listen to the accompanying episode of The Mockingcast.

1) On the heels of “identity” being Dictionary.com’s word of 2015, Spiked editor Brendan O’Neill discusses a theme that we have spoken about quite a bit ourselves this year, namely, the increasingly fluid cultural understanding of identity politics. O’Neill takes on the phrase “I identify as…” as a telling move from what we used to say about ourselves: “I am…” And with this new movement of self-identification comes the emphasis on subjectivity, the need for one’s identity to be transient, temporal—rather than objective, fixed, given.

O’Neill describes that this rampant interest…

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What 1,792 Blogposts Have Taught Me About the Internet

What 1,792 Blogposts Have Taught Me About the Internet

Our Buy One, Give One Free deal is up and running on the magazine site, if you’re still looking for last-minute gifts. Simply order a subscription, and add your second recipient’s address in the memo box of your order. 

Here’s one of our features from the Technology Issue, David Zahl’s state of the digital union from the particular vantage point of this website. To order this issue, either in electronic version or print, click here.

Copyright Gabriela Herman

The guy knew enough not to argue. He had clearly seen my kind before. The kind who approached the counter with purpose, maybe a…

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Jungian Bandages and the Two Halves of Life We’re Still Living

Jungian Bandages and the Two Halves of Life We’re Still Living

Mary Karr’s new book on memoir begins with this epigraph from Thomas Merton. It is about the false self we all carry with us. It is amazing.

Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. I wind my experiences around myself and cover myself with glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I were an invisible body that could only become visible when something visible covered its surface. But there is no substance under the things with which I am clothed, I am hollow, and my…

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From the Archives: Getting What You Want By Revising What You Had

From the Archives: Getting What You Want By Revising What You Had

Have you ever reminisced with a friend or family member about an event, only to find that you have two contradictory recollections? It can be harmless – e.g. what color shirt someone was wearing on our 10th birthday – or it can be painful – you were clearly mother’s favorite child vs. No, you were.

These things don’t have to be in the distant past. I attended a church service a few years ago in which a preacher spoke, regretfully, about refusing to marry an inter-religious couple early in his ministry. The couple also happened to be an interracial one. He…

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Mind Like the Raging Sea: Thoughts on David Allen’s Getting Things Done, Second Edition

Mind Like the Raging Sea: Thoughts on David Allen’s Getting Things Done, Second Edition

I’ve started reading the second edition of David Allen’s Getting Things Done, mostly because I’m due for a productivity update. If you haven’t heard of Allen’s system (abbreviated and trademarked as GTD)—well, then, you’re clearly not as efficient as you could be. I’ll pray for you.

I won’t bore you with how, specifically, GTD has allowed me to triage emails and projects and documents and presentations and travel and (shiver) networking and (throw up a little in my mouth) PowerPoint slide decks. I will say this, though: I have never successfully used my precious system outside of work. Never. I installed…

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Empathy for the Deserving: The Morgellons Dilemma

Empathy for the Deserving: The Morgellons Dilemma

Leslie Jamison’s book of essays, called The Empathy Exams, has a lot to say to about the reaches (and limits) of human love and compassion in their modern expression. The second essay in the collection, called “Devil’s Bait,” is about a group of sufferers who share a rare, controversial illness called Morgellons Disease. With Morgellons, strange fibers grow beneath the skin, causing the sensation that the skin is crawling. The term is formication—the sensation of crawling insects under the skin.

It is a controversial disease, though, because it has no known medical cause and no known medical cure. While it remains…

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Introducing the Technology Issue!

Introducing the Technology Issue!

Below find the Table of Contents and Opener of our forthcoming (sixth!) issue, which will be heading to mailboxes by month’s end. You can either subscribe directly, or sign up to be a monthly giver to Mbird, which includes a complimentary subscription to the magazine. The issue will be available individually soon.

Opener

What if your entire life was recorded? Like instant-replay on Monday Night Football, what if you had playback for every minute of every day? And what if everybody else did, too? Think of all the problems that would suddenly disappear: forgotten names now remembered, favorite stories always accessible, mysterious crimes…

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Sherwin Nuland Knows What Everybody Needs

Sherwin Nuland Knows What Everybody Needs

I haven’t read Sherwin Nuland’s How We Die: Reflections of Life’s Final Chapter, but everyone I know who’s done a stint in a hospital–doctor, nurse, chaplain, volunteer–tells me it’s a ubiquitous find in the ICU. Descriptions of its contents tend to emphasize the word “humanistic”, so I suppose I chalked its popularity up to Nuland having channelled secularist feelings about death in a smart, accessible way, i.e. without being a complete downer. Anyway, the other day someone forwarded me an excerpt of an interview he did with Krista Tippett back in 2009 (I think–Nuland died in 2014), and while some anti-religious…

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