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Suitcases of Evil

Suitcases of Evil

Editor’s note: the following post touches on disturbing topics such as child abuse and should be read with discretion. It is a follow-up to Richard’s recent piece, “Praying Twice.”

Every Tear That Falls Must Converge: A Review of The Dusk In Us

Every Tear That Falls Must Converge: A Review of The Dusk In Us

After five long years, hardcore legends Converge are back. Their first album since 2012’s All We Love We Leave Behind, The Dusk In Us is an aptly titled exploration of the hurts and promises latent within a world receding from the light. And while Converge have matured with this album, that maturation in no way implies a mellowing of their characteristically caustic delivery. Scabrous, frenetic bombardments of metallic guitars and hyperkinetic drums support Jacob Bannon’s gargling-with-broken-glass vocals in ways both more damning and more life-affirming than ever. For no other band in this vale of tears better encapsulates the law/gospel…

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Lord God, From Even Our Motives, Save Us

Lord God, From Even Our Motives, Save Us

This past Sunday was the kind of Sabbath that heals me. It was All Saints Sunday, my husband preached about my grandmother, and the church was full of loud children. During communion, a guy played “Amazing Grace” on the horn. It was a taste of heaven.

And then I turned on the radio in my car and heard about the horrific church shooting, just a few hours away from us, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. And then I turned the radio off.

My heart felt too full of heartache. The vision of babies being shot to death in a Baptist church was more…

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Spiritual Healing and Alzheimer’s

Spiritual Healing and Alzheimer’s

We’re very grateful for this piece written by Gail Baker.

On a day with the sky blue and high and the smell of hyacinths in the air, everything began to crumble. I picked up the phone to hear crushing news. My Mom, Pat Baker, was experiencing her first signs of memory loss.  

The family remained cautiously optimistic, refusing to jump to any conclusions. Fearing a possible Alzheimer’s diagnosis, we refrained from mentioning the “A” word altogether. Many patients lose so much function from the outset that they never reach the stage of conscious acceptance. Mom, as it happened, had…

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Patton Oswalt's Good Grief

Patton Oswalt’s Good Grief

This one was written by Aarik Danielsen.

“You gotta laugh to keep from crying.”

This is what passes for conventional emotional wisdom in 2017. And not without reason. Our moment feels, politically, psychically, and spiritually, like a stage play complete with buffoonish characters, bizarre stage directions and metaphors willing to do tasteful nudity. If we didn’t turn to the audience and wink at the absurdity of it all, we would never open the curtain.

And yet this logic is no logic at all. Love is patient and kind; it is not rude or self-seeking. Grief makes no such promises. It will not be…

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Praying Twice

Praying Twice

Editor’s note: the following post touches on sensitive topics such as child abuse and should be read with discretion.

I am a member of one of the very smallest of American fraternities: the tiny and shrinking group of men who grew through early adolescence singing in Anglican boychoirs. Because I could and can sing, I was given in loco parentis when I was ten years old to an institution that trained boys to sing in an ancient English tradition of choral worship. We wore red or black cassocks and white surplices with ruffs loaned by the local Episcopal parish. The pictures were…

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When Kiss Means Kill: Reflections on the Apocalypse of Language

When Kiss Means Kill: Reflections on the Apocalypse of Language

“As the cool stream gushed over one hand, she spelled into the other the word water, firstly slowly then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motion of her fingers. Suddenly I felt the misty consciousness as of something forgotten—a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened by soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free… Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought….

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He Descended Into Horror

He Descended Into Horror

The approach of Halloween and Reformation Day begs an interesting question for the modern Tertullian: what hath Halloween to do with Jerusalem? As a rhetorical move, the implied answer is: nothing at all. In the eyes of many a pious Protestant, it is some rough beast that slouches off towards Halloween while soldiers of the five solas parade to the fanfare of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” “Trick or treat!” and “Here I stand” seem poles apart, incommensurately opposite. But what if the convergence of the two in one day presents an apposite moment for reflecting upon solus Christus…

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The Art of Memoir and a Divine Glimpse of Stefani in Gaga: Five Foot Two

The Art of Memoir and a Divine Glimpse of Stefani in Gaga: Five Foot Two

I spent the better part of my 20s working with teenagers in one form or another. Whether as a youth minister, a creative writing teacher, or a photography TA, one dazzling thread remained the same: Gaga. I spent time with kids who didn’t just adore her music, they worshiped her. They felt freed in some way by who she allowed them to be; she allowed them to be themselves (or whatever version of themselves they wanted to be) in all their average weirdness. In Gaga: Five Foot Two (a documentary released last month on Netflix), one of Lady Gaga’s fans…

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The Preacher Goes to Fashion Week: Jim Carrey's Gospel Madness

The Preacher Goes to Fashion Week: Jim Carrey’s Gospel Madness

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

God, in his mercy, sends preachers. Some are well-educated and institutionally-approved folk serving the faithful in fine old churches, but in these last days we should take no alarm that the same Lord who spoke through Balaam’s ass might again choose an eccentric instrument. His preachers are not necessarily welcomed even under ordinary circumstances – indeed, the urgency of the need and the warmth of the reception seem often enough to have an inverse relationship. Again, this should not surprise, because the preacher’s first word is a word of law,…

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Accidental Killers and Cities of Refuge

Accidental Killers and Cities of Refuge

“There are self-help books written for seemingly every aberration of human experience: for alcoholics and opiate abusers; for widows, rape victims, gambling addicts, and anorexics; for the parents of children with disabilities; for sufferers of acne and shopping compulsions; for cancer survivors, asexuals, and people who just aren’t that happy and don’t know why. But there are no self-help books for anyone who has accidentally killed another person. An exhaustive search yielded no research on such people, and nothing in the way of therapeutic protocols, publicly listed support groups, or therapists who specialize in their treatment…”

Thus opens the second section…

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Memo From Houston: What Harvey Taught Me

Memo From Houston: What Harvey Taught Me

One week you will be doing ballet barre classes and drinking self-righteousness smoothies and the next week you will be hunkered down on a couch in your native Mississippi, crying into your 6am Jimmy Dean pancake on a stick, while endlessly watching the Weather Channel.
When your husband sends you and your kids away from Houston, you will not see him again for two weeks. You will have brought enough clothing for two days. You will stay with the most generous people you know until you and your family have officially worn out your loudass welcome. And then you will need…

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