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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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Ignorance Is Not Bliss: Ivan Karamazov Visits Westworld

Ignorance Is Not Bliss: Ivan Karamazov Visits Westworld

This post was written by Nate Mills. 

When Moses stood before the Burning Bush, he responded to the Lord by asking, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Moses’s hesitancy was rooted in a deep uncertainty surrounding his identity. He was unsure of his own right to be an actor in God’s plan for the Israelites. King David, wondering similarly about the weight of his duties, asked of the Lord, “What is man that you are mindful of him? What is the son of man that you care for…

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On Dead Lions, Live Donkeys, and the Limits of Endurance

On Dead Lions, Live Donkeys, and the Limits of Endurance

David Grann has penned a gripping New Yorker profile on Arctic explorer Henry Worsley. If you don’t have time to read the whole lengthy piece (or even if you do), this 25 minute New Yorker Radio podcast is a fantastic supplement. A retired British army commando, he was obsessed with the Arctic explorer (and current leadership book icon) Earnest Shackleton. Worsley (who once spent the night sleeping near his hero’s grave) adopted Shackleton’s credo as is own: “by endurance we conquer.”

Shackleton’s fame, however, should not obscure the fact that he was “in many ways, a failure.” He emerged physically broken after Captain…

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On Bleeding Funny (A Magazine Sneak Peek)

On Bleeding Funny (A Magazine Sneak Peek)

Our first glimpse into the issue we’ve all been waiting for, this one comes from award-winning humorist Harrison Scott Key. Subscribers, orders should be hitting the mailbox this week! For the uninitiated, YAW! GIDDYUP! 

When your book wins the Thurber Prize in American Humor, our nation’s most important literary prize for a funny book, people have a lot to say, such as, “Oh, wow, I’ve never heard of that award!” or “You still have to pay for your food.”

Once, I was introduced at a book festival as, “Harrison Scott Key, winner of the largest and most important prize in…

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When Compassion Hung on a Cross: Mr. Rogers, Janusz Korczak, and Other Unnecessary Miracles

When Compassion Hung on a Cross: Mr. Rogers, Janusz Korczak, and Other Unnecessary Miracles

Of all the questions I get in the ministry, “Why aren’t there miracles anymore?” is one that has dumbfounded me for a long time. We read the Gospels and see Jesus enacting one miracle after another. A banquet of food is made from a lunch pail. Healings come one after another. People are raised from the dead. To be honest, I have not really had an adequate answer for the why-don’t-we-get-miracles-anymore question.

Not until Fred Rogers entered the zeitgeist (again).

I have been struck by revisiting his old shows and remembering how remarkable he felt to me as a child. He explained…

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PZ's Podcast: Hitchcock Railway

PZ’s Podcast: Hitchcock Railway

Episode 243: Hitchcock Railway

This cast is about low anthropology, or rather, hidden anthropology.

Have you been struck by the comments concerning the Austin bomber in which people near and dear to the young man say they saw no signs or external evidence of any kind that he was thinking about doing this, or about anything, for that matter, out of the ordinary, let alone murderous?

My experience of people, especially act-outers in life, is that what they do often takes one by surprise. They didn’t “advertise”, in other words, their deeper, let alone their deepest feelings. The internal preoccupations of the acter-out…

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Closer Than You Think (The Trouble With Deconstruction)

Closer Than You Think (The Trouble With Deconstruction)

Deconstruction is having a moment.

There are podcasts and books galore about the process of deconstructing (usually damaging or negative) religious belief. Take one step back from deconstruction and you have the phenomenon of doubt in modern Christian writing. At some point in the last ten years, doubt began to be the prerequisite for an “authentic” Christian life.

Charles Taylor wrote about this in his 2007 book, A Secular Age. In this seminal work, Taylor argues that authenticity is the hallmark of the secular age, which is why doubt is in. Authentic doubt or disbelief is better than inauthentic faith…

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"Three Billboards" - A Prologue to a Road Trip

“Three Billboards” – A Prologue to a Road Trip

The older I get, the more I’m learning how much I love “origin stories.” How did Captain America come to be? How did the new friend I just made come to be so delightful and gregarious, and awesome? Why does my next door neighbor always draw the shades and act so reclusive? Whether it’s a Marvel superhero, or real life people who God seems to have put in my life at this moment, I’m finding that it’s fascinating to learn how we got to now. How did we get to “this present,” in this story? …and even if “now” is…

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The Climactic Unveiling of the Glory of God

One of many insightful excerpts from Chad Bird’s latest book, Your God Is Too Glorious: Finding God in the Most Unexpected Places:

“These Old Testament stories that illustrate God’s backward ways of engaging us in the world—then and now—are all preambles to the Lord’s ultimate revelation. Genesis to Malachi is one long drumroll that summons the cosmos to stand at attention before the climactic unveiling of the glory of God.

And there it is, in a dying man. Soldiers gamble for his clothing. His closest friends have skulked away. His fiercest enemies spit insults in his face. Even a fellow condemned man mocks him. There is nothing, not one iota, of obvious God stuff going on here. It looks like hell. No one would walk outside Jerusalem to this spot of public execution, stand at the foot of this man’s cross, look up, and say, “There is the glory of the Almighty. There is the unveiling of who God is, how God woks, how he comes to us.” The opposite would be said. “Looks like the devil’s work. There is the shame of failure.” (23)

Everything Happens for a Reason ... And Other Lies I've Loved

Everything Happens for a Reason … And Other Lies I’ve Loved

My mom has a very useful phrase that, because she’s our mom, my siblings and I use to mock her mercilessly: “Gently but firmly.”

“Gently but firmly” works for closing the microwave door, breaking up with a bad boyfriend, and asking for a raise. It doesn’t work for everything — sometimes a person has to be more firm than gentle, or vice versa, but it works for a surprising number of situations. It works so well in Kate Bowler‘s new memoir, Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved. Bowler is an assistant professor at Duke Divinity School, a graduate…

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