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Posts tagged "suffering"

Do You Need a Receipt to Return a Christmas Miracle?

Do You Need a Receipt to Return a Christmas Miracle?

I’m quickly coming up to the two year anniversary of when I nearly, nearly, shouted a four letter word in a crowded auditorium. And it wasn’t fire. I was at a Christmas concert, and the organizers had thoughtfully placed magnets with handwritten Bible verses underneath all of our seats. At a certain point in the evening, they asked us to reach under and collect them. I did. That’s the moment I wanted to shout…um…not-fire.

The verse was for me, for that very moment. The Lord answers prayers. This particular evening, I really didn’t want him to. Like, at all. It meant…

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Bumper Stickers and Background Screens: Reflections on Losing a Child

Bumper Stickers and Background Screens: Reflections on Losing a Child

Our bumper stickers and computer backgrounds reveal so much about us. Through the college team logo, the institution we attended, a political cause, or images of loved ones, we tell the world so much about what we love, desire, and stand for.

I have often considered what the picture displayed on my own screen represents about me:

As you see above, there is a beautiful woman with a glowing smile. (That’s my wife.) Holding her hand is a little boy with white, curly locks flowing out from beneath a fireman’s hat. (That’s my oldest child.) His firefighter’s jacket can hardly contain the…

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Hikikomori and a Global Word of Grace

Hikikomori and a Global Word of Grace

Back in 2013, we mentioned a disturbing cultural trend in Japan in one of our weekenders, where culturally disenfranchised youth become shut-ins. The official Japanese word for these shut-ins is Hikikomori- and while examples of this have been observed in other places around the world (including Italy, the US, and South Korea), in Japan, the trend has become a cultural phenomenon. For a multitude of reasons, Hikikomori give up on human interaction, choosing to cloister themselves away from the world rather than interact in it.

The Hikikomori phenomenon is worth bringing up again because new studies suggest that as much as…

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Another Week Ends: The Onion's Guide to Mothering, The Happiness Industry, Selling Beauty, Cultural Christians, Sad David Brooks, and More Bill Fay

Another Week Ends: The Onion’s Guide to Mothering, The Happiness Industry, Selling Beauty, Cultural Christians, Sad David Brooks, and More Bill Fay

1. First off, The Onion has been doing marvelous things lately. Their insight into the human condition is always surprising, especially their sense for all the pressures of social life, how ridiculous they are, and how strange is our reliance on them for identity. Cue Mothershould, their new web series on how to be a better Mom. Our frequent use of scorekeeping as a description of our obsession with metrics and comparison has found its best video example since King of Kong, below:

http://v.theonion.com/onionstudios/video/2782/640.mp4

2. In the dystopian scare department this week, Vicky Price of The Independent reviews a new book by William Davies called The Happiness Industry. Our unprecedented ability to…

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Another Week Ends: Flannery Prays, Calvin Outsells Luther, More 'Millenials'-ism, Next-Next-Gen Gaming Consoles (PSILOVU), Backfiring Discipline, Zombie Impressionism and Noah: The Movie

Another Week Ends: Flannery Prays, Calvin Outsells Luther, More ‘Millenials’-ism, Next-Next-Gen Gaming Consoles (PSILOVU), Backfiring Discipline, Zombie Impressionism and Noah: The Movie

1. Well, we knew about Mary Flannery’s early life of training chickens to walk backward (1932); it appears that God marked O’Connor out as different from pretty early on. We remember the short stories of violent grace and brilliant essays, and we even got to read some excerpts from her year-and-a-half-long prayer journal (written while still studying for her MFA at Iowa) in September. Well, three days ago the full work was released, edited by her friend William Sessions, and The New Yorker posted a great review/primer for anyone interested in fiction, O’Connor, prayer, the South, grad school, wooden legs, etc:

She reckoned that her success…

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Brief Thoughts on the Great, Soon-to-Be-Late Poirot

Brief Thoughts on the Great, Soon-to-Be-Late Poirot

Next week, after nearly 25 years, ITV’s Agatha Christie-based Poirot draws to an end. Now just in case you start to think I’m more cultured than I actually am, I want to be clear that I have never watched a single episode of Poirot. It falls under the category of “shows my Dad tells me I should be watching that are usually British.” However, a recent article in the Telegraph has moved me to catch at least the end of this well-loved Agatha Christie series and perhaps to then start from the beginning.

On November 13th actor David Suchet will put the eccentric,…

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Adrian Peterson's Theology of Glory (and Why It's Unhelpful)

Adrian Peterson’s Theology of Glory (and Why It’s Unhelpful)

Perhaps you know the story: Adrian Peterson, who suffered from an injury that was to alter his career (tearing his ACL), returned the next year and had such a good season that he was named the NFL’s most valuable player. Players who tear their ACL usually don’t bounce back very well or very quickly, let alone win MVP awards. But Peterson is now on track to break Emmit Smith’s all-time rushing record. This is remarkable, and Peterson’s recognition is extremely well-deserved.

Anytime a star athlete overcomes adversity and succeeds, the sports world basks in the celebratory glory along with the triumphant…

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Praying to a Human Face in an Angry Crowd

Praying to a Human Face in an Angry Crowd

Francis Spufford on the horizontal power of prayer, known uniquely to Christianity (from Unapologetic):

Christians too, of course, draw consolation from the patterns faith makes as it repeats in time. For us too there’s an important wisdom in not leading a life whose only measure is the impulse of the moment. But our main comfort in the face of unjustifiable suffering is very different. It’s not an investment in order we’re asked to make; it’s a gamble on change. Our hope in not in time cycling on predictably and benevolently under an almighty hand. Our hope is in time interrupted, disrupted,…

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Another Week Ends: Underconfidence, Kate Middleton's Picnics, Unreported Medical Advice, D.H. Lawrence's Christian Wonder, the Double-Bind of Summer Movies, More Christian Wiman, and (Way) Too Much Sociology

Another Week Ends: Underconfidence, Kate Middleton’s Picnics, Unreported Medical Advice, D.H. Lawrence’s Christian Wonder, the Double-Bind of Summer Movies, More Christian Wiman, and (Way) Too Much Sociology

1. How confident are you? Over at The New York Times, David Brooks surveyed his readers to get a sense for self-confidence, lack thereof, and the ways males and females experience confidence differently. While the word itself is a bit vague and murky, and Brooks found few trends in the survey data, the individual responses are definitely worth a look:

But it was really hard to see consistent correlations and trends. The essays were highly idiosyncratic, and I don’t want to impose a false order on them that isn’t there. Let me just string together some of the interesting points…

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Eating Poorly, Sleeping Well:  Mockingjay  and the End of Progress

Eating Poorly, Sleeping Well: Mockingjay and the End of Progress

You can either eat well, or sleep peacefully

-German proverb

There are dystopian novel plots that resolve, and there are those that do not. Commercial success demands resolution, which is a great reason why Collins will have to overcome a credibility barrier with adolescents and young adults if she ever wants to match The Hunger Games trilogy’s sales with future works. Peeta?? Come on – all pulp bestselling authors know that the dark, masculine hunter is supposed to win out in adolescent-lit love triangle. Anyone writing a conventional dystopian epic knows that readers like resolution, and let’s face it, Panem’s new government doesn’t…

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Catching Fire: Breaking the Closed Circle of the Modern Bestseller

Catching Fire: Breaking the Closed Circle of the Modern Bestseller

A brief recap: in The Hunger Games piece, we examined a two-level voyeuristic scaffolding built by Suzanne Collins as the book meditates on our attraction to violence and suffering. The Gamemakers create a brutal world into which teenagers are plunged to fight to the death for the amusement of thousands in the fictional dystopia of Panem and, simultaneously, Collins herself is constructing that world as the author for the amusement of, by now, over a million contemporary readers. In our indignation against the Gamemakers for the horrors they perpetrate, we are ultimately drawn into a split between our own enjoyment…

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Language as Empathy: Compassion and the Grace of Expression

Language as Empathy: Compassion and the Grace of Expression

Over at The American Scholar, acclaimed poet Christian Wiman wrote an essay, entitled “Mortify Our Wolves“, on his sickness with cancer and the dynamics of loss more generally – from the perspective of a preternaturally articulate Christian and sufferer. For those interested in language, empathy, pastoral care, or just about anything else in the world, it’s more than worth reading (unless you have an aversion to the occasional swear-word). We’ll hit a few high points here but again, reading it in entirety is highly recommended, ht MS:

There comes a moan to the cancer clinic. There comes a sound so low…

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