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Suicide, Our Darker Emotions, and the Goodness of God

Suicide, Our Darker Emotions, and the Goodness of God

I’ll never forget my first therapy appointment fifteen years ago. I told my counselor at the time, Dr. Gordon Bals, about my anger and rage and how it scared me. I told him about other things, too, but the anger and rage were my main concerns because I didn’t think I had any reasons to be angry and rage-y. Dr. Bals taught me things aren’t always what they appear, and it turned out I did have several reasons to be angry and rage-y. I just wasn’t very good at deciphering and naming my emotions. I didn’t want to admit to…

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Walking Away from a Murder

Walking Away from a Murder

His girlfriend had recently got back together with him. He’d have been better off without her. But tell that to an eighteen year old who’s in love. She was all he had, and all he wanted. So when he lost her, he thought he lost everything. And when he got her back, he thought he regained everything.

Loneliness creates vacuums in the souls of men that they often fill with women who make them even lonelier.

But Tom, drunk on misplaced hopes, only felt the intoxication of happiness. Finally, after years of “family life” where there was little family and no life,…

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Sharing Hospital Joy and Misery

Sharing Hospital Joy and Misery

This one comes to us from Bryant Trinh.

I often find myself in the humor and satire section of The New Yorker. I absolutely love a good laugh and am usually labelled as the troll in one of my circles of friends. However, as I was perusing, I ran across a piece that was delivered as a commencement address earlier this month at UCLA’s Medical School by Atul Gawande — a surgeon, public-health researcher, and author of the best-seller Being Mortal.

Growing up in an Asian-American household, it isn’t surprising that at one point or another I was aspiring to…

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On Anthony Bourdain: We Were Not Made to be Famous

On Anthony Bourdain: We Were Not Made to be Famous

To say that I am a big Anthony Bourdain fan would be an understatement. I love everything he ever did. When my college boyfriend declared Alton Brown more entertaining and called Bourdain “depressing,” I was like: It’s not me, it’s you. We have to break up now.

I remember watching his episode of a pig being slaughtered in Louisiana. The cameraman captured the gathered faithful reciting the Lord’s Prayer right before the pistol rose to the head of the soon-to-be-eaten animal. Immediately following, the zydeco music kicked up. And I thought to myself, “That’s how we do it down…

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We All Have a Hunger

We All Have a Hunger

At seventeen, I started to starve myself.
I thought that love was a kind of emptiness,
And at least I understood then the hunger I felt,
And I didn’t have to call it loneliness.

Florence and the Machine’s new single Hunger comes out of the corner swinging. From the first line, you know this is not going to be a breezy summer jam.

If I am honest, I rolled my eyes when I first heard Florence Welch’s captivating voice sing that first line. I thought it was a bit much, especially for an opening line.

What happened next was musical magic.

I was gripped by…

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On Deserts: What Sexual Assault, Star Wars, and Salvation Have in Common

On Deserts: What Sexual Assault, Star Wars, and Salvation Have in Common

We’re very grateful to share this powerful piece by C. Marcus Odden.

Editor’s note: the following recounts a story of child abuse and should be read with discretion.

PZ's Podcast: Dead Reckoning

PZ’s Podcast: Dead Reckoning

EPISODE 248

Pastoral experience in hospital pre-op units provides abundant evidence for the existence of the soul. I first saw this evidence in Birmingham years ago, when someone we knew and loved was having to go into the operating room twice the same day, because the first “pass” that morning had failed. The situation was in fact do-or-die, and I had never before seen the look of fear which had come over the patient’s face as she was being prepared for her second procedure.

Then another time, in Washington, as the gurney was being wheeled out to surgery, a kind of fluttering…

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Lessons on Prayer from the Cast of Jane the Virgin

Lessons on Prayer from the Cast of Jane the Virgin

When I found out that Netflix added the most recent season of Jane the Virgin to its streaming repertoire, I knew exactly how I would spend my weekend. I may or may not have watched all seventeen forty-minute episodes in about 72 hours, complete with a rollercoaster of emotions as I walked alongside these characters, whose rich development made me think I actually knew and loved them, as they experienced the joys and sorrows of life. But mostly I cried. A lot.

(Some spoilers lie ahead.)

Jane the Virgin, set in Miami, is The CW’s adaptation of a Venezuelan telenovela about a…

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We Are All Sad Ben Affleck on a Beach with a Back Tattoo

We Are All Sad Ben Affleck on a Beach with a Back Tattoo

When I first clicked through to the New Yorker piece, “The Great Sadness of Ben Affleck,” I’ll admit that it felt a little bit like seeing the sad ex-boyfriend of a close friend. The momentary thrill of schadenfreude: “you’ve done her wrong, and look at how that worked out for you.” Ben Affleck is not looking so great these days, and I feel a pang of satisfaction on behalf of his ex-wife, Jennifer Garner.

To be clear, Jennifer Garner is not my close friend, but she feels like a girlfriend to so many of us who came of age in the…

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Shell of a Woman

Shell of a Woman

My husband and I met in Savannah, Georgia and lived there for six eventful years. Every summer in Savannah — steaming wet with humidity — the cicadas descended en masse, a plague to the Coastal Empire. They hummed like maracas this familiar refrain that still reminds me of impossibly late nights, warm beer, and the lemon-sweet scent of southern magnolias. The first sign of the summer cicadas was not their song, however, but the crisp empty shells left behind from their molting. On limbs, leaves, poles, railings, their shells were everywhere — in the exact likeness of their former selves…

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This Is Not My Fight Song

This Is Not My Fight Song

I was hungover on my wedding day.

I say this not because I think it’s cute—and certainly my mom and sister, who drove me to the salon to get our hair did while I retched into a bucket in the backseat (it was one of the greeting baskets we gave to the wedding guests with the itinerary, bottled water, and snacks! I emptied it first), did not think it was cute either. My mistake was borne of a week of too much anxiety and too little food—along with perhaps too much alcohol? (The jury’s still out on science.) Once our trio…

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PZ's Podcast: How U Break a Soul-Tie

PZ’s Podcast: How U Break a Soul-Tie

EPISODE 245

Well, the short answer, tho’ not the whole answer, is: you can’t. I wish you could. I can give you a hundred pointers and tips concerning it; and can even print out some prayers for you to say, in hopes of their breaking the soul-tie.

But they would all be “tweaks”. They would all be wistful hopes that will let you down. This is because in “the natural” — i.e., within the systems and interactions of this world — the soul-tie is a tethering of something eternal, your endless soul, to a contingency. The chain of your soul to the…

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