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Theology/Religion

Push Notification Masochism: Killing Ourselves & Boasting in Our Busyness

Push Notification Masochism: Killing Ourselves & Boasting in Our Busyness

This one was written by Brad J. Gray.

Twitter’s no longer on my phone. Yep, I deleted it. I’m not saying that so you can see how much better I am at self-control than you are. (I know my own heart enough to know for sure that’s not the case.) Nor am I saying that to sound super-spiritual or Puritanical in my devotional walk with God. I did it because I needed the break. Mind you, I’m not leaving the social platform altogether, neither am I about to wax eloquent about the inherent evils of using such a medium as Twitter….

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The Romance of Ash Wednesday

The Romance of Ash Wednesday

This year Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday happen to be kissing cousins. On the same day that people everywhere will purchase bear stuffed animals holding hearts that say, “I love you beary much,” people will also have ashes smeared on their heads as a person whispers to them, “You are dust and to dust you shall return.” 

It is an odd coincidence. And it provides endless opportunities to “get creative” with the liturgy. You can grind up pink chalk and smear the rose colored dust onto the faithful while pushing a pink heart into their foreheads. You could just…

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God Does Not Love Me Because I Am a Christian

God Does Not Love Me Because I Am a Christian

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis poignantly observes that all of history is “the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” He’s making a sweeping macro-scale statement (and he’s right), but even ignoring the broad narrative, we see it play out in our own lives nearly every moment of every day. We have fallen natures, and our own contentment, security, and happiness are the places we see this nature most intimately. I am never aware of my own sin more than when I am made to see that in which…

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Memories from the Future: A Word on Abandoned Houses, Nostalgia, and the Hope of the World

Memories from the Future: A Word on Abandoned Houses, Nostalgia, and the Hope of the World

Grateful for this incredible piece by Nate Mills:

When I was 3 or 4 I had an apocalyptic vision. It may not have been as otherworldly as the Ancient of Days appearing in resplendent glory like in Daniel 7, but it was unmistakably surreal. My family was taking a road trip from our home in rural Canada across the 49th parallel when, as we crossed the Ambassador Bridge into Detroit, it appeared: Michigan Central Station, blazing in decrepit glory before my eyes. I was entranced.

Abandoned since 1989, the stunning 18-story neoclassical building appeared as a monolith presiding ominously over the Detroit…

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Vulgarity, Anguish…and Truth

Vulgarity, Anguish…and Truth

Punksters and non-punksters alike will be able to relate this one by Cole Hartin:

I’ve always had something of a penchant for punk rock. Anything gritty, really. This eventually extended itself into post-hardcore. It’s kind of a guilty pleasure, though. I only listen to it once in a while, after sneaking glances over both shoulders, to make sure nobody is looking at my iPhone. I do feel a smug sense of pride in my curated list of higher pop: Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, S. Carey, Novo Amor, Julien Baker, and the like. But my love for Say Anything, Blink-182, and Brand…

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Incomplete Math and the Paradox of Grace

Incomplete Math and the Paradox of Grace

Achilles: “Well, the best way I know to explain it is to quote the words of another old Zen master, Kyōgen. Kyōgen said: ‘Zen is like a man hanging in a tree by his teeth over a precipice. His hands grasp no branch, his feet rest on no limb, and under the tree another person asks him: “Why did the Bodhidharma come to China from India?’ If the man in the tree does not answer, he fails; and if he does answer, he falls and loses his life. Now what shall he do?”

Tortoise: “That’s clear; he should give up Zen,…

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Pity, Compassion, and the Emotional Prison Where She Kept Her Parents

Pity, Compassion, and the Emotional Prison Where She Kept Her Parents

To be loved is to be known, the saying goes. Or as Tim Kreider memorably puts it, “if we want the rewards of being loved we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known.” This is what we believe makes God’s love so miraculous, so fundamentally gracious.

Of course, when it comes to other human beings, this kind of thing is risky business. Because getting to know someone in all their unkempt reality, i.e., beyond the surface facsimile, often provokes a feeling opposite to love. The problem comes when we think we know someone fully but don’t, as is…

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Individualism, Community, and Kafka

Individualism, Community, and Kafka

This post, first published on our site in 2008, remains a timely critique that cuts straight to the heart! Written by David Browder:

If one is to enter any sort of seminary situation or spend time in any form of Christian subculture, that person will encounter two things. They are two sides of the same coin. One is “community” and the other is Western individualism. The first (one is told) is good, and the second is bad. I have been doing some thinking on both and would like to publicly “air” out what I have come up with. Perhaps the reader…

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Mixtapes from Anyone Who is Not Your Husband: Sounds of Earth and Heaven

Mixtapes from Anyone Who is Not Your Husband: Sounds of Earth and Heaven

There are facts about my story that will never change this side of heaven, barring total tragedy in some cases. And forgive me for saying so, but while the permanence of many things in this life is blessed, that same permanence can also be awful.

FACT: I will always have my two children. Praise Jesus, and also holy hell. Until the day I die, I will always be worried about them, responsible for them, and expected to put their needs before my own. The full weight of this appointment as “parent” is overwhelming. And again, excluding some unspeakable event, this will…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Numbers Chapter Thirteen Verse Thirty Through Chapter Fourteen Verse Four

Hopelessly Devoted: Numbers Chapter Thirteen Verse Thirty Through Chapter Fourteen Verse Four

I don’t know about you, but Numbers has rarely been my “go-to” for a good word in the morning… But this passage, from The Mockingbird Devotional, seems fitting for a sleepy Monday. With their eyes on the land of Canaan, the Israelites begin doubting (yet again!) God’s providence. Commentary by Javier Garcia:

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among…

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PZ's Podcast: Urgent

PZ’s Podcast: Urgent

EPISODE 241

People are so good at minimizing the human situation. I’ve encountered this throughout Mary’s and my ministry, right from the very start, in Silver Spring, MD.

The religious “professionals” detested my message, that the world was in incomparable conflict with itself, and that each human being experiences comparable conflict inwardly. People would say, your message is too “down”, and I just don’t like it. It’s too dark, or depressing, or gloomy.

But what actually happened is that a majority of the people listening tuned in fast! And then they started inviting their friends.

It’s not that the human condition is hopeless. With…

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The Deathless Death

The Deathless Death

This one was written by our friend Sean Dwyer.

I’ve recently stopped attending my church. Putting many intellectual issues aside, the heart of the matter is the heart. I do not want to go anymore. I am unable to go. I am unable to bear the weight of the expectations, exhortations, and encouragements. I am sick.

In the words of Hozier, my church has been dishing out a “deathless death.” In his song, “Take Me to Church,” he sings:

Every Sunday’s getting more bleak,
A fresh poison each week.
“We were born sick,” you heard them say it.
My church offers no absolution.
She tells me, “Worship…

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