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Death, Taxes, and the New England Patriots

Death, Taxes, and the New England Patriots

I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. In the main, the Steelers are a pretty great team for whom to root. They’re almost always pretty good, and win their division most years. Their ownership is stable, evidenced by the fact that they’ve had three coaches since 1969. For comparison’s sake, the Cleveland Browns—a nominal rival of the Steelers—have had eighteen coaches in that same period. The Browns are terrible. One of my favorite statistics is that, since he entered the league, Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ veteran quarterback, is the winningest quarterback at the Browns’ stadium…and he plays there once per season. The…

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I, Tonya Justifies the 90's

I, Tonya Justifies the 90’s

Where were you in 1994 when Nancy Kerrigan took the famous billy club to the knee? Can you believe that event took place nearly a quarter century ago? It’s one of those strange decade-defining events that’s lasted in our minds alongside the Milli Vanilli lip syncing scandal of 1990, the Clinton affair scandal of 1998, or the O.J. Simpson trial of 1994. For those who weren’t following the illustrious world of 1990’s U.S. figure skating, or for those who simply weren’t born yet, there’s a fresh chance to get in on the story with this year’s Oscar bait dark comedy I,…

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Improve Thyself! On the Fantasy Person You're Failing to Become

Improve Thyself! On the Fantasy Person You’re Failing to Become

If you go to an American bookshop, by far the biggest section is self-help and improvement. The idea that life is refine-able and that you can learn a technique for anything, whether it’s love-making, being a businessman, marriage, cooking, losing weight, whatever it is. There’s a Tony Robbins way of doing it, there’s a things-they-didn’t-teach-you-at-Harvard way of doing it. There’s an unbelievable sense that life is improvable.

These are the words of Stephen Fry, on his way to explaining the difference between British and American comedy (clue: Adam & Eve). While I’m not sure I buy his ultimate point, there’s no…

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A New Year & A Better Immanuel...

A New Year & A Better Immanuel…

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

-Matthew 1:23

Immanuel, God with us, epitomizes the Christmas season and carries certain implications which we could summarize in the following respects: Firstly, God has come near us not to condemn, but rather to be condemned for our sins. We understand this as a fitting contrast to Genesis 3:8 (and they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden…and they hid). As well, we can see in this a foreshadowing of the blessed future state John…

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Can’t Stop the Signal: Enduring Hope for Divided Times

Been waiting for the right opportunity to post a video of this talk, which I had the privilege of giving twice this past Fall. I actually prefer the San Diego one (from the Here We Still Stand conference – sorry, DC!), partly cause it’s a little more theological, partly cause the lighting was better–read into those signals what you will. But as I was ruminating on a possible ‘state of the union’-type New Years post, I realized it contained a good deal of what I’d want to say:

p.s. As you’ll discover, you can hear but not see the clips I reference. The second one makes sense without the video (read a description), but the first one from Curb Your Enthusiasm is a lot funnier if you can see Larry’s face.

What Steve Jobs Taught Me About Life and Death

What Steve Jobs Taught Me About Life and Death

Grateful for this one by Nicholas Davis.

I made the decision to purchase an iPhone years ago because I already owned a MacBook and an iPad (why not have the whole system, right?). Steve Jobs invention has taught me much about life and death.

As a whole, I’ve been pleased with how little effort it takes on my part to accomplish virtually anything I want (short of making me my morning cup of coffee…there’s no app for that). From searching to syncing, to going “paperless” by scanning print documents, handling finances from my phone, reading the Greek New Testament with a tap…

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Is There Life After Law? A Few Reflections on Pauline Ethics

Is There Life After Law? A Few Reflections on Pauline Ethics

Another wonderful piece by Charis Hamiltonius, continuing from last week’s entry on Luther and Paul.

“Shall we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?” This rhetorical question, dropped in the middle of Paul’s lengthy argument in Romans against a Law-oriented life, is not without merit. If grace is freely given to the ungodly, if the moral ordering of the universe is upside-down, and if our works have no bearing on our righteousness before God, then a reader of Paul’s letter would understandably wonder whether Paul cares about morality at all. To this question, Paul emphatically says, “HELL…

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Law and Gospel in Luther and Paul

Law and Gospel in Luther and Paul

A theological tour de force by none other than Charis Hamiltonius:

You may not have heard, but the 500th anniversary of the unofficial start of the Protestant Reformation happened recently. Praise of Luther and his theology took my Twitter feed by storm as every theology nerd weighed in on the merits of Luther and the significance of the Reformation. This post aims to assess one of Luther’s central themes—his theology of Law and Gospel—and the relative value of his reading of Paul. Some find a great deal to appreciate about Luther’s reading of Paul, while others find less textual support.

The…

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The Humanity of Harassment

The Humanity of Harassment

I’ve been trying to find a way in to writing about the rash of Hollywood headlines, and sexual harassment more generally, and may have finally found one. Don’t think I wasn’t tempted to take Sarah Silverman up on her question–the key question, as far as I can tell, but also too important of one to broach in haste, or before we’ve all had a little longer to absorb the gravity and breadth of the situation.

That is, it feels like any pronouncements at this point, theological or otherwise, would be premature if not insensitive, possibly even a way of avoiding the…

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Kids, Camels, Needles & the Righteousness of the Law

Kids, Camels, Needles & the Righteousness of the Law

This one comes to us from Brad J. Gray.

Something my dad has said many times before, and something that I don’t think I’ll forget anytime soon, is that the keys to good biblical interpretation happen to also be the same 3 basic rules in real estate: (1) Location, (2) Location, and (3) Location. Or to put this in hermeneutical terms, we might say, Context, Context, and Context!

Context is king when it comes to reading, studying, and applying the Bible. (My dad should know a thing or two about this, as he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the same subject.) This is…

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Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad (and Him, Too)

Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad (and Him, Too)

You can’t time this stuff. At least, if you did, it wouldn’t pack half the punch.

I’m referring to the release of The Rentals’ song “Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad” a few short weeks before Rolling Stone published a full-length profile of the man in question. We’ll take them one at a time.

The Rentals, which at this point is really just the moniker for Matt Sharp (of early Weezer fame), haven’t released a record since 2014’s excellent Lost in Alphaville. Then, on October 5th, “Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad” appeared out of nowhere, a seven minute gospel pop opus…

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Portal Guns, Talking Horses, and the Future of TV Comedy (Part 1)

Portal Guns, Talking Horses, and the Future of TV Comedy (Part 1)

On the TV front, two new seasons of Mockingbird favorites are now out for your viewing pleasure. Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty just finished its third season, with Nielsen knighting it the most popular comedy on television, and Bojack Horseman’s fourth season is now available for binging on Netflix. Both shows are regulars in our “best of TV” columns each December, occupying a fair amount of Mockingbird HQ water cooler chitchat. It’s a little silly to think that TV shows featuring an alcoholic super-genius grandfather and a washed up 90s sitcom-star horse garner critical acclaim and commercial success, but that’s…

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