New Here?
     
Christmas

A Story of the Unexpected: “Just What I Wanted” from This American Life

A Story of the Unexpected: “Just What I Wanted” from This American Life

This American Life’s recent Christmas episode, about gifts, told stories of mostly bad news: two of the three segments were about characters realizing that the thing they most wanted was bankrupt of what they actually needed. They were about expectations and disappointments, about human longing and our tendency to put our faith in the wrong things.

The first segment, however–the prologue–was the precise inverse: the thing we didn’t realize we wanted was the thing we needed most.

It’s a good story. It starts off with a Marine named Luke who, while serving in Ramadi, Iraq in 2005, spent his off-time watching Gilmore Girls.

Luke Huisenga: Yeah, I mean,…

Read More > > >

My Best New Years Eve(r)

My Best New Years Eve(r)

In downtown Milwaukee, there’s a Starbucks attached to an ice rink where every winter, you can drive past and see families, singles, couples, and kids of all ages gliding in graceful rotation over an artificial frozen pond. The sight evokes the kind of Americana sentimentality one might feel upon seeing a Norman Rockwell painting or a 1980’s Speilberg film. It just looks like the thing to do – the thing you ‘ought’ (read Law) to do in the winter, in the Midwest, with your wife and kids…especially during the holidays. It seems so inviting to sit with a cup of hot coco or…

Read More > > >

Westworld and the Myth of Christmas

Westworld and the Myth of Christmas

Here’s a great one from Geoff Holsclaw, Augustine scholar, Mockingcast moonlighter, and friend. Spoiler alert applies: 

The best works of art remind of us reality, or point to what could be.

Provoking the local community, one of our artists installed “Away from the Manger” on the church lawn. Life-sized versions of Mary, Joseph, and the three Wisemen were placed 15 feet away from baby Jesus in the manger. They “adults” were all gathered around a giant television tuned to Fox News.

We received outraged letters from another church about how we were profaning Christmas. The neighbors were mostly confused and the installation was…

Read More > > >

In This Hope We Rebel: Rogue One, An Advent Story

In This Hope We Rebel: Rogue One, An Advent Story

Everybody!!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story delivers magnificently on the promise Star Wars fans have known still lurked within the franchise but struggled to manifest over the last seventeen years of films. Yes, I’m hyperventilating a little–but so will you. Rogue One is so excellent it would be easy to drown the internet in superlatives praising it but part of the excitement that accompanies it is the sheer wonder of witnessing a story that celebrates heroism and hope without resorting to the stale devices that characterize so many blockbusters. Gareth Edwards has composed an elegy to broken human beings consecrated to…

Read More > > >

Shipwrecked at the Stable

Shipwrecked at the Stable

A heavy hitter from the champion of grace himself, Brennan Manning. This is an abbreviated version of his chapter in the Advent book, Watch for the Light. In it, Manning echoes Walker Percy in praising the wayfarer, the person who knows they are lost, and who knows that their survival depends upon nothing short of rescue. As he so powerfully depicts, though, our rescue looks a lot like defeat.

God entered into our world not with the crushing impact of unbearable glory, but in the way of weakness, vulnerability and need. On a wintry night in an obscure cave, the infant…

Read More > > >

Mom Goggles

Mom Goggles

One of my favorite shows on television is The Goldbergs, which is a sitcom about a family in the 1980s. The mother, Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey), is ridiculous not only in her 1980s-ness (jazzercise, big hair, shoulder pads, mom jeans), but also in her single-minded devotion to her family. Her love for them often seems to travel only in a one-way direction. Her husband is apathetic. Her children are teenagers and embarrassed by her smothering affection. But she doggedly loves them anyway, in spite of herself and in spite of their protests. In one episode, her children accuse her of having…

Read More > > >

Red-Eyed Gravy: “A Charleston Feast for Reconciliation”

Red-Eyed Gravy: “A Charleston Feast for Reconciliation”

Christmas is a time of nostalgia and hope, which, for me, at least, can turn a bit maudlin. I listen to podcasts at work, and sometimes, during certain seasons, my podcast tastes can lead me down ill-advised paths. At work, poignant is the most dangerous podcast category. The excuse of allergies is a good cover for tears when you work in a blue collar environment like I do.

I spent the best part of a half hour with tears dripping out of my safety glasses while listening to an episode of the podcast, Gravy. A collection of half-hour audio documentaries and…

Read More > > >

“Mother and Child”: Calling BS on the Expectations of “Silent Night”

“Mother and Child”: Calling BS on the Expectations of “Silent Night”

I used to love how the carol “Silent Night” captured my image of the season: peaceful, expectant, hopeful. Then I became an adult, and a parent, and Christmastime became anything but serene. I found myself singing words like “all is calm, all is bright” while looking around at other faces, wondering, “Does anyone else believe this nonsense?” When God saw fit to give me my own swaddled baby boy–then another–I related to Mary more than ever and felt that someone must speak up for her, because if I know anything about Christmas with a newborn (and I do; my kids…

Read More > > >

Chance the Rapper Wishes Jesus a Happy Birthday

Via this past Saturday’s SNL. Sublime:

How to be a Cow in the “Lowly Cattle Shed”

How to be a Cow in the “Lowly Cattle Shed”

“The time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).

Ever since our August move to Southern California, the Getz family has been taking names. We’ve made great friends, my husband has crushed at his job, and I have balanced part-time work and parenthood like a damn Huggies commercial. Then, in the weeks before Thanksgiving, we hit a stumbling block that completely threw us out of the rat race. Without…

Read More > > >

Whatever You Do, Don’t… Empathize?

Whatever You Do, Don’t… Empathize?

I guess it’s unavoidable: once something becomes a buzzword it’s doomed. Perhaps that’s the whole point of calling something a “buzzword”. Like a celebrity with a rabid following, the quality or concept being described reaches a level of public esteem where there is more to be gained from tearing it down than embracing further. More attention, revenue, fame, credibility, etc.

Truth or falsity may not be completely beside the point, but it matters only so much when a bunch of pundits are roaming the interwebs hunting a sacred cow to mount on their wall. As if the first among us to…

Read More > > >

On Surviving the Holidays: Personal Suffering and the Demand of Christmas Cheer

On Surviving the Holidays: Personal Suffering and the Demand of Christmas Cheer

This one comes to us from Luke Roland.

I have always loved Christmas. This time of year is what I looked forward to for much of my life. I love everything about Christmas. Movies, decorations, music, food, Santa, gifts, and more food. My family Christmases growing up were near picture perfect. My mother and father went all out and made home a magical and fun place for my sister and me. I wouldn’t change anything about it.

This Christmas will be like no other Christmas I have ever experienced in my life. I have two children, and I’m currently going through a…

Read More > > >