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On Being Outsiders…and Not Quite Bulletproof

On Being Outsiders…and Not Quite Bulletproof

Just wanted to let you know you can all calm down: I figured out the Election of 2016.

Okay, maybe I didn’t “figure it out” so much as “choose the theory I find least disquieting among all the ones being thrown around right now.” The narrative of this election, after all, is being told and retold all over social and traditional media. There seems to be no escaping the countless voices clamoring to be heard, the opinions on why the winner won and the loser lost. One of the refrains that caught my eye early, though, and still sticks, is that so many…

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How Hans Urs von Balthasar Stopped Up His Ears

An incisive passage from Hans Urs Von Balthasar’s Heart of the World, ht Clayton Hornback:

heart-of-the-worldI’ve been a person who has fulfilled his religious obligations. I am a practicing Christian. I am a good Catholic. Sundays I’ve always been in church. I’ve made my Easter duty. I’ve paid my tithes. I’ve given my alms. I’ve always said my morning and evening prayers. I have always been to confession and they’ve always been valid. I have made my nine First Fridays (which, after all, have given me a kind of insurance before God, sanctioned by the Church). I’ve gone to Communion every Sunday. I’ve communicated daily.

‘I have, I have’. What I’ve done with my religion is raised up walls against God. By my practices I have stopped up my ears to God’s call. Quietly, imperceptibly, everything which could have been life has become a mechanism behind which my soul has laid itself to rest.

Praying With Trump?

Praying With Trump?

Becket is a great film. Maybe the great film. It has the added advantage of being true.

It’s a film that tells the story of Thomas Becket. He was born sometime in the early 12th century, in all likelihood on the 21st of December on the day of his namesake, Thomas the Apostle (Doubting Thomas).

Like many of us, he had a messy story. He hung around with elites as a kid but was the son of someone caught between the clear (and perhaps cruel) line between nobility and commoner. History tells us his father was perhaps a knight or modest landowner. But…

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No Such Glorious Thing: Martyrdom and the God of Silence

No Such Glorious Thing: Martyrdom and the God of Silence

This post was written by Cort Gatliff.

One afternoon when I was in elementary school, as I was choosing a book to purchase from the church bookstore—my reward for behaving while running errands with my mom—I came across Jesus Freaks by the Christian band DC Talk. Named after the band’s successful album and song, both of which I counted myself a fan, Jesus Freaks tells the stories of Christians around the world who have been put to death for their faith.

That night, long after everyone in my house had fallen asleep, I stayed up reading. I became obsessed with these shocking…

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And I Mean to Be One, Too

And I Mean to Be One, Too

We’re approaching All Saints’ Sunday, which is the anniversary of both of my sons’ baptisms. We baptized them as infants, placing their entire bodies carefully and lovingly into water prayed over by my husband. After he washed them in the holy water to baptize them, he anointed their heads with oil and marked them as Christ’s own forever. I cannot even think about those baptized babies without getting weepy, not out of sentimentality, but for the sheer power of the words spoken over them that day, and for the promises we made on their behalf.

Why did we choose All Saints’…

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God as a Magnifying Mirror of Me: On American Folk Religion

God as a Magnifying Mirror of Me: On American Folk Religion

At the end of August, I shared a quote from sociologist Zygmunt Bauman in which he described social media networks and various communities in our day as reflections of the individual. That is, we contemporary Americans tend to seek out communities and people that help express our inner selves more visibly to the wider world. Like my new iPhone 7, J.Crew shirt, and selvedge denim jeans reveal something about their owner, so in much the same way are my networks and circle of friends an extension of my inner ego. And if Bauman is correct in that observation, then might it be that God is…

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Halloween Is For All the Saints

Halloween Is For All the Saints

Do I love Halloween because I love darkness? That’s a trick question, albeit an unintentional one. Do I love darkness? Yes. Every son and daughter of Adam loves darkness, John records for us in the light of Nicodemus’ bumbling nighttime interview with Jesus. Our inheritance as a race is a disavowal of the light and an embrace of gloom and death. So am I somehow an exception that escapes the charge? Not at all. But is this affirmation the bottom line for why I delight in Halloween? For some the answer will be an obvious “Yes”, but I think the…

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Ian & Blake’s Terrifying Top Fives: The Scariest Short Stories for the Halloween Season

Ian & Blake’s Terrifying Top Fives: The Scariest Short Stories for the Halloween Season

Welcome once again to Ian and Blake’s annual Halloween series about a genre that does what few others can. Here’s this year’s final spooky top-five! Before you dive in, make sure you don’t miss last week’s installment on the best introductions to horror for kids.

5. “Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad” by M.R. James (1904)

This entry is a spring-loaded little yarn from M.R. James, the early 20th century master of the English ghost story, and follows Parkins, an antiquary investigating the ruin of a Templar preceptory. While searching through the remains he discovers a whistle inscribed with Latin and translates the…

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Attachment Theory and Your Relationship With God

Attachment Theory and Your Relationship With God

Another sampler from the Mental Health Issue! Here’s a doozie from psychologist Bonnie Poon Zahl about the meaning of ‘attachment theory’ and its implications for the ways we talk about our faith. Of course, this is only to whet your appetite…

I am a psychologist of religion. This means that I use tools from psychological science to study, empirically, the manifold expressions of religion and spirituality in human lives. I am most interested in how people understand and relate to God, and in my research I adopt the methodological naturalism that is expected in my discipline; I try to understand people’s religious…

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Welcome to My House, Where Every Day is Demo-Day

Welcome to My House, Where Every Day is Demo-Day

On a recent Sunday as my family returned home from church, my three-year-old son began to sing part of a song he’d evidently learned in Sunday School that morning: “And the rains came down and the floods came up.” He sang it over and over. Only problem? He couldn’t remember any more of the lyrics than those. At first it was cute, because what mother’s heart doesn’t turn into a swirl of pink cotton candy when their children first start to sing all the Jesus songs? But after about five minutes of “The rains came down and the floods came…

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“The Key to Jesus”: A Few Quotes from Fleming Rutledge

Here are a few quick quotes from Fleming Rutledge’s introduction to her much-talked-about recent release, The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ. (Rutledge was featured on an episode of The Mockingcast–“The Gospel is for Sinners”–a few months back…don’t miss it!)

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There have been many famous deaths in world history; we might think of John F. Kennedy, or Marie Antoinette, or Cleopatra, but we do not refer to “the assassination,” “the guillotining,” or “the poisoning.” Such references would be incomprehensible. The use of the term “the crucifixion” for the execution of Jesus shows that it still retains a privileged status. When we speak of “the crucifixion,” even in this secular age, many people will know what is meant. There is something in the strange death of the man identified as Son of God that continues to command special attention. This death, this execution, above and beyond all others, continues to have universal reverberations. Of no other death in human history can this be said. The cross of Jesus stands alone in this regard; it is sui generis

There has been ceaseless flow of print and talk about the unreliability of the New Testament witness concerning Jesus…Few outside academia would know that the incongruities so frequently cited today as proof of the Bible’s unreliability were noted many centuries ago by such as Origen and Calvin. It seems more than a little disingenuous for skeptical scholars of today to act as though they were the originators of newly minted insights made possible only by their supposed discoveries and intellectual fearlessness. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that those writers who seek to reduce and diminish the figure of Jesus are creating a Jesus to suit their own preferences just as surely as Thomas Jefferson did when he took scissors and paste to the Gospels.

The key to Jesus is now, as it has always been, his crucifixion and resurrection. Nothing whatever is known from first-century extrabiblical sources about Jesus as a historical figure…Any modern reconstruction of the historical Jesus,” therefore, is certain to be a product of the cultural environment that produced it, whereas the Jesus proclaimed as Lord in the New Testament comes closer than any other figure known to human history to being universal, transcending time and historical location, belonging to all cultures and all people everywhere and forever. That is a big claim, but Christians need not be ashamed to stand by it. This proclamation of Jesus as Lord…arose not out of Jesus’ ministry, which after all can be compared to the ministry of other holy men, but out of the unique apostolic kerygma (proclamation) of the crucified and risen One. 

Valorized Intelligence and Less Profitable Truths of the Heart

Valorized Intelligence and Less Profitable Truths of the Heart

In recent news, CBS doubles down on eccentric male geniuses for its fall television lineup. One show, Pure Genius, treats us to an inside view of a Silicon Valley billionaire’s game-changing medical innovation; another, Bull, features the “brilliant, brash, and charming” titular consultant. And the MacGyver reboot, in addition to featuring an actor ten years younger than did the former series (!), snazzes up the clever factor, viz.,

electronics! What differentiates this slate from earlier hit shows (e.g., NCIS, Bluebloods) is its emphasis on intellect as the protagonist’s defining trait. Sure, our hero may commit the occasional social gaffe, exhibit some…

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