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My Most Selfish Prayer

My Most Selfish Prayer

This one comes to us from Andrew Taylor-Troutman:

Dear Lord: let me die before my wife.

I’m bouncing our baby daughter on my lap as she drools on a wooden rattle. Her mom makes pancakes every Saturday morning, but the baby has only recently gotten her first taste. Our middle child, age two and a half—his big brother has taught him to emphasize—marks time by the weekly passage of pancakes, which doesn’t seem all that idolatrous to me.

My wife and I are both ordained. But she alone is the Saturday priest, the celebrator of this eucharist of flour, butter, and syrup. Her…

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Suicide, Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and the Irresistible Father

Suicide, Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and the Irresistible Father

I know that there’s already been quite a bit said about suicide on this site, but I’d like to add my own two cents, and this from the standpoint of an ordained pastor who is called to step into these situations as a representative of Jesus Christ—to actually try my best not to make the situation worse.

During my summer of clinical pastoral education (something required of most seminarians), on my second night of rounds as a newly minted hospital chaplain, I was summoned to the critical care unit. A young man had been brought in with a terminal gunshot wound…

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Theorizing, Grieving, and Feeling Scared: Grappling with Modern Discourses on Suicide

Theorizing, Grieving, and Feeling Scared: Grappling with Modern Discourses on Suicide

Very grateful for this piece by Sarah Gates. 

Almost five years ago, my father died from suicide. The violence of his death, and the suffering that preceded it, marked the tearing of a temple curtain in my life. Since then, I’ve found myself in positions I never imagined that I’d be in—traumatized by certain violent images, angered by misuse of mental illness terminology, and sitting, severely uncomfortably, on my hands as coworkers have confoundedly speculated about why suicide happens.

As high-profile suicides of seemingly happy and successful individuals continue to catch us off guard, people want to understand it and figure it…

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The Only Available Candidates for Holy Matrimony

The Only Available Candidates for Holy Matrimony

Well, it’s wedding season here in Charlottesville, VA, which is as good a time as any to share some marital non-advice from the late priest-chef-writer Robert Farrar Capon. The following excerpt is taken from his seminal work, originally published in the 60s, Bed & Board: Plain Talk About Marriage (ht AM). 

A man and a woman schooled in pride cannot simply sit down together and start caring. It takes humility to look wide-eyed at somebody else, to praise, to cherish, to honor. They will have to acquire some before they can succeed. For as long as it lasts, of course, the first…

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The Best of Us, "The Americans," Might Be Russian…

The Best of Us, “The Americans,” Might Be Russian…

What’s more important? Figuring out who we serve? Or figuring out whose we are?

True confession: I’m not moved much to action or opinion regarding our current political landscape. (This is not a political post; for that to be so, it would presuppose that I much care.) Mid-term primaries in our troubled times don’t interest me. I may or may not have cared to vote this past Tuesday here in Georgia. I deeply appreciate freedom, but it has never been my highest value. Proud of my country? Yes. Do I root for America in the World Cup and the Olympics? Absolutely!…

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Alone Together In Our Third Places

Alone Together In Our Third Places

The following was written by Rachel Gaffin.

It’s 9 o’clock on a Tuesday night. Breezy pop-punk spills out of the speaker system of the coffee shop I share with thirteen other people. All but two sit in front of laptops; most are plugged into headphones. The man across from me reads a purple tome titled Theories of Truth. We avoid eye contact.

In this silent yet soundtracked space, people politely vie for real estate near the outlets, getting up only to go to the bathroom or maybe to order a second latte. In short, the perfect place for me to write. And…

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For Those We Love, A Healthy Dose of Pessimism

For Those We Love, A Healthy Dose of Pessimism

Alain de Botton explains why we are cruelest to the ones we are closest to. Most of it has to do with the fact that we have such devastatingly high expectations for them to meet our devastatingly deep neediness. A section on “Pessimism” from The School of Life’s book, Relationships. 

No one can disappoint and upset us as much as the person we’re in a relationship with–for of no one do we have higher hopes. It’s because we are so dangerously optimistic that we call them a c***, a s***head, or a weakling. The intensity of the disappointment and frustration is dependent…

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Stupid Kids Doing Stupid Stuff

Stupid Kids Doing Stupid Stuff

This little piece comes to us from the Rt. Rev. Scott Benhase.

In the film “20th Century Women,” there’s a compelling scene between a mother and her teenaged son. The mother has just brought him home from the hospital; he was rushed there after playing a game with his friends that went wrong. The game involved him hyperventilating while another boy stood behind him, wrapping his arms around his torso, and squeezing. Which caused him to pass out. Normally, a person comes to just a few seconds after this, but in this case, the boy remained unconscious. By the time his distraught…

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The First Chapter of Bed and Board by Robert Farrar Capon - New Edition Available Now!

The First Chapter of Bed and Board by Robert Farrar Capon – New Edition Available Now!

And now we present an excerpt from the most recent addition to our Robert Farrar Capon series, his greatly esteemed work Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage. An essential book for any Capon-lover, this was Robert’s first bestseller, and you’ll see why in this introductory chapter, reproduced below.

“Bed and Board is necessary and offensive in the best possible way.” – Sarah Condon

“…sage wisdom, biting humor, uncomfortable truths…never a page that must be forgiven for pedantic, sawdusty prose.” – Chad Bird

I.

ABSURDITY

The author celebrates the Holy Estate of Matrimony, professes disillusionment with the usual advices about it, and gives…

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PZ's Podcast: Shoe Horn

PZ’s Podcast: Shoe Horn

EPISODE 247

People are constantly trying to shoe horn their search for God into containers too tight for the Object of the search. This is probably true of some of your interests, whether it’s food or Hammer horror films or “Philadelphia Soul” — to name two of my current but chronic faves — or you name it. On something or someone, you are probably pinning very high hopes.

The blogosphere is full of such shoe horns — interests such as a movement or style or movie or type of music that attracts your “ultimate concern” (Tillich). But they don’t actually produce for…

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Existential Angst, Just in Time for Mother's Day

Existential Angst, Just in Time for Mother’s Day

I almost didn’t have children.

I can hardly say that sentence aloud now, now that I am a mother, without choking on the words.

I almost chose not to have children.

I did not want the world to have more of me in it.

When I say that aloud now, people laugh, as though I’m joking. I’m not joking. And I wasn’t joking then, or being unnecessarily self-deprecating. I did not want the world to have more of me in it, and I did not want to put another person through the experience of being me. One of me seemed like plenty.

The luxury of…

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The Distraction of Grace

The Distraction of Grace

This reflection comes to us from Blair Kilgallen.

Our two granddaughters had been staying with us for several days while our kids took a respite in Iceland before they got too weighed down with the arrival of their third child.

Morning plans were set. My wife Rachel was working at the clinic. Arrangements were made for me to drive our granddaughters over the mountain-pass to drop them off with their other Gramma in Denver. Afterwards, a group from our local church-plant was to meet with the leadership of our oversight church.

Then things took an unexpected turn, as they often do in the mountains.

A…

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