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Relationships

How to Be a Person in a World of Divorce Delusions

How to Be a Person in a World of Divorce Delusions

I first ran across the name “Heather Havrilesky” back in 2011, when The New York Times Magazine published a column of hers comparing the tv shows Friday Night Lights and Glee. What she wrote knocked me flat, and formed the basis of one of our first posts to go (relatively) viral. Here was someone musing on our favorite themes in a national outlet, with a wit and compassion that we could only dream of mustering.

Since then, seldom a week has passed when I haven’t been on the lookout for her by-line. Because no matter what the topic, Havrilesky’s knack for…

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A Thousand Paper Cranes for the Vampire Queen: A Story About “The Meaning of Madness”

A Thousand Paper Cranes for the Vampire Queen: A Story About “The Meaning of Madness”

Since the Christian message is given through a narrative–a chronological, historical story–we have spent a lot of time on this site wrestling with the importance of the concept of ‘narrative’–both the pros and cons of it–and how it plays out in our lives. It seems clear that, though we gravitate naturally towards narratives and often define ourselves by them, these narratives can be limiting at best, and delusional at worst. Detachment from these narratives–what’s often called ‘mindfulness’–can be helpful in receiving a fuller picture of God’s love which breaks down our personal constructs. That said, we remain bound to our narratives and to our story-telling…

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The Secret to Long-Term Relationships: Insanity?

The Secret to Long-Term Relationships: Insanity?

We’ve all been there. You say something to a friend or family member or spouse that seems innocuous. “Have you seen my sunglasses?”. “I may have to postpone our lunch.” Or maybe you do something thoughtless but minor. You forget to return an email. You borrow a piece of clothing without asking. The response you get is vicious–way out of proportion with whatever you’ve said or done.

This happens with alarming frequency in relationships, especially romantic ones. Soon both parties have shifted into “combat mode” and the conflict has escalated to painful heights. Your action or comment has triggered something significant in the other party, what psychologists…

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Hollywood Teaches Us How to Be Good Friends: A Much-Belated Review of The Intern

Hollywood Teaches Us How to Be Good Friends: A Much-Belated Review of The Intern

I inwardly sighed last week when my wife suggested that we watch the 2015 Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway comedy The Intern on HBO Now. One has to admit there are problems with the film’s setup.

Robert De Niro plays Ben Whitaker, who is a retired, widowed, 70-year-old who spent 40 years climbing the corporate ladder at a telephone book publisher. He applies for a “senior internship”* offered by a hip start-up, About the Fit, which has set up its open-office, iMac- and MacBook-heavy workplace in the building where Ben’s factory used to make the now-obsolete phonebook. Ben gets assigned to the company’s…

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Our Daily Liturgies: An Excerpt from Bed and Board

Our Daily Liturgies: An Excerpt from Bed and Board

Returning to an Episcopal Church during college after some years worshiping in different traditions, I was surprised that the various creeds and dictums came back to me quickly. It was so assuring to hear the words that I had been so familiar with growing up, finding them still there in the recesses of memory. When the pastor said, “Hear these comfortable words” after the Confession and the Prayers of the People, the scripture then, and also the familiar liturgy throughout, really were that to me: comfortable words. Dwelling on them in content was important, no doubt, and a few teaching series I’d…

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When the Solution Isn’t a Solution

When the Solution Isn’t a Solution

It’s only July, I know, but the 2016 Podcast Episode of the Year can already be announced. I wish I could give the nod to The Mockingcast or PZP (“Ecumenical Apocalypse” tied with “Cook’d Book” for runner-up, and Gladwell’s “The Lady Vanishes” took bronze), but alas, top honors go to Invisibilia’s “The Problem with the Solution”, which first aired this past Friday, ht CWZ & LM.

The cast takes a lengthy look at a place we’ve written about a couple of times before, the town of Geel in Belgium, where instead of being cooped up in a facility mental patients live…

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Family Math

Family Math

This one comes to us from culinary master, Carrie Willard.

At the beginning of my professional career, when I was practicing law at a small firm in Virginia, the closest I felt to having a vocation was when I counseled families about their estate plans. This was an opportunity for me to educate and empower my clients to make decisions about their financial assets and end-of-life health care options.

Often, at the beginning of those meetings, the clients would tell me in hushed tones that they had a “very unique circumstance.” This usually involved a potential heir — their child, grandchild, niece, or…

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You Know You’re Ready to Get Married When…

You Know You’re Ready to Get Married When…

A few more quotes from Alain de Botton’s wonderful new book, The Course of Love, all taken from the penultimate chapter where he outlines what it might look like to be “Ready for Marriage”:

Pronouncing a lover “perfect” can only be a sign that we have failed to understand them. We can claim to have begun to know someone only when they have substantially disappointed us.

However, the problems aren’t theirs alone. Whomever we could meet would be radically imperfect: the stranger on the train, the old school acquaintance, the new friend online… Each of these, too, would be guaranteed to let…

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Let Us Now Praise Fathers: On Taking the Patriarch for Granted

Let Us Now Praise Fathers: On Taking the Patriarch for Granted

A few weeks ago one of my girlfriends asked me to pray for her husband. They were getting back some major test results and she was worried he might be critically ill. He wasn’t. Thank God. But what she said on the phone about the possibility stayed with me. She said, “I feel bad for thinking this. But there’s just so many things he does. I don’t know what I would do without him.”

I knew immediately what she meant. I do not know what day the trash goes out. I hate driving anywhere I do not have to. And the…

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From the Archives: Don’t Look Now But Your Soul Toupee Is Showing

From the Archives: Don’t Look Now But Your Soul Toupee Is Showing

Ah, the difference between who we’d like to be and who we actually are. Such a perennial theme these days (and source of anxiety), what with the advent of social media and its carefully constructed/curated presentations of self. The discrepancy between the real and the ideal has become so prevalent a part of our everyday lives, in fact, that it may be worth reminding ourselves just how much this phenomenon pre-dates the Internet.

Take for instance the following passage from Mbird fave Tim Kreider’s masterful essay, “The Czar’s Daughter”, collected in We Learn Nothing. The essay is a rumination on, and…

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Conceptual keyboard - Find Love (pink key)

You Have No New Matches: Reviewing Season 1 of Casual

Several nights ago on a break from his thesis work, my husband peeked his head into the den and casually noted, “The shows you watch have a lot of sex in them.”

This was worrisome and, once I thought about it, also true.

Most recently, I stumbled upon Hulu’s Casual (Season 2 aired Tuesday) out of boredom and indifference. I’d just finished Six Feet Under, a wonderful but weighty series, and needed a lighter story to balance out my troughed dopamine levels. From what I could tell by the title and cast photo, Casual seemed to fit the bill – a casual (wink)…

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“We Just Have to Find a Way to…(Sigh)”: Wallander and the Memory of God

“We Just Have to Find a Way to…(Sigh)”: Wallander and the Memory of God

Kurt Wallander: It’s just moments, now, Dad. Everything. Just moments now. They don’t join up.

Povel Wallander: What don’t?

Kurt: My memories. My life doesn’t join up. Can’t remember.

Povel: Someone else will remember. Someone will remember for you.

While watching episode two of Wallander, series four, I began to see the writing on the wall for one of my favorite detectives. A stove left on, nearly burning down the house; a gun left on the seat at a restaurant, endangering a small girl who picks it up. The “writing” on this wall wasn’t written in words, however, but in the slow, crumbling decay of…

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