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Grace in the Age of Fentanyl

Grace in the Age of Fentanyl

“[Karl] Marx famously called religion the opiate of the masses, but these days opiates are the opiates of the masses.” That’s the first variation of this observation I came across last week, via Tim Kreider’s new I Wrote This Book Because I Love You. The second run-in occurred a couple...
Taylor Swift and the Ministry of Retribution

Taylor Swift and the Ministry of Retribution

True fans of Taylor Swift will smell something fishy about the New York Times headline, “Taylor Swift, Philosopher of Forgiveness.” Because when it comes to Taylor’s philosophy of forgiveness, what songs come to mind? Maybe her early hit “Picture to Burn”? Or its music video in which she fantasizes about...
Summer in Omelas: What Are We to Do With All This (Climate) Grief? Part 2

Summer in Omelas: What Are We to Do With All This (Climate) Grief? Part 2

If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it … Scapegoating, exporting our unresolved hurt, is the most common storyline of human history. The Jesus Story is about radically transforming history and individuals so that we don’t just keep handing on the pain to the next...
Merton, Depression, and Therapy

Merton, Depression, and Therapy

I’m an individualist who protects himself with information. That’s what the Enneagram tells me, or what my friends who’ve studied it tell me it tells me. I used to resent personality tests—you can’t put me in a box!—but then the personality test explained why I resented them in the first...
Ruh Ro… Fifty Years of Faith in Accidents

Ruh Ro… Fifty Years of Faith in Accidents

What brought you here was your insatiable appetite for a juicy mystery. – Emile Mondavarious Imagine a cool, moonlit night. Skeletal trees line a narrow gravel road, and headlights are glowing in the distance. A vehicle is coming: an old, sputtering pick-up steered by some middle-aged mustachioed man. A groovy,...
How Many Friends Have I Really Got?

How Many Friends Have I Really Got?

The most awkward part of the wedding wasn’t the foot-washing, believe it or not. Uncomfortably sensual, sure, but there was also something touching about it. More awkward was the fact that she was there in the first place. You see, she would’ve been surprised to receive an invitation, let alone...
Never Forget: Celebrating the Memorial of Our Redemption

Never Forget: Celebrating the Memorial of Our Redemption

This week, more than any other week in America, we are reminded to “never forget.” While those words convey a broad message, they somehow recall a set of very specific images: a passenger plane flying into the South Tower; a firefighter climbing a crowded staircase; a man, upside down, in...
Dog Is My Copilot

Dog Is My Copilot

’Tis the season for pet blessings! Churches everywhere are celebrating the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (Oct. 4), that famed lover of animals, by blessing their congregants’ furry friends. Our family are dog people, and we always bring a dog or two to the pet blessing at our church....
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Another Week Ends: John Gray on Tom Holland, Leslie Jamison on Susan Sontag, Tavi on Tavi, Malcolm Gladwell on Friends, Sad Phoneless Pictures, and the Love of Ferns

1. Lots to chew on this weekend, including this genuinely positive (and daring!) review of a book we mentioned last week—Tom Holland’s Dominion—by one Mockingbird’s favorite atheists, John Gray, in the New Statesman. As DZ mentioned in his earlier post, Holland’s new book discusses how, despite the decline of Christendom in the West, Christianity is […]

On the Seculosity of Fandom, or How I Almost Got Beaten Up at a Guns N Roses Show

If you don’t move, I’ll f&%*-ing make you move, he said. I was standing in a stadium, watching the reunited Guns N Roses perform. A dream I’d harbored for actual decades, finally realized. Our seats were decent but a few rows up a large-ish party hadn’t shown, so me and my friend did what serious […]

The Evil Person I Become on a Bike

This one was written by Sarah Hinlicky Wilson. Yes, that’s me: mild-mannered theologian by foot, hate-spewing demon by bike. Note that when I say “bike,” I don’t mean a souped-up chopper bearing a Hell’s Angel in well-worn leather and a half-drunk can of Schlitz. I mean a dorky, human-powered eight-speed that I can’t even make […]

Sarah Coakley, Against “Sweaty Pelagianism”

Why are we talking so much about bodies? Not just Christians, but everyone. Whether it’s our devotion to workouts and dieting, our “gender trouble” and overwrought attempts at sexual ethics, our reproductive anxieties, our reckoning with racial histories, our climate emergency, or some other perplexity, the fleshiness of our lives stands front and center in […]

A God’s-Eye View (In the Grip of the Talons): Big Fish, Small Ponds, and the Fisher of Men

Every bus, trolley, and fire truck in my town has a proud slogan blazoned on its doors: “Charlottesville: A World Class City!” No doubt, what is meant to bring a sense of pride to our 40,000 residents is pretty cute to those who live in any actual city. The claim isn’t totally unwarranted: there’s a […]

Muriel Spark: On the Demands of the Christian Religion (Or, On Chewing While Reading the Scriptures)

A choice excerpt from Muriel Spark’s first novel “The Comforters,” which was written after her conversion to Catholicism: “She always insisted that the book could not have been written without her conversion”; religion “had enabled her to write.” The book follows a fresh convert, Caroline, who here responds to a memory of the hoggish Mrs. […]

A Bar Too High and Too Heavy

I may seem like nothing but an already crotchety almost-thirty-something who has resigned himself to the “armchair analysis” stage of athletic participation. And while that holds more than a modicum of truth (a ruptured ACL and chronic back problems will do that), I also contend that the advent of fitness culture is, indeed, religious, and […]

Memory and the Trauma of History

What does remembering tragedies like September 11th accomplish here and now? What do we channel in remembering, and what dangers are there in it? “Remembering,” I once heard a minister claim, “is the art of the mature.” I wrote it beside the second verse of Psalm 103: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget […]

A Not-So-Godforsaken Town: It: Chapter 2 Shows Us It Really Is Finished

Very grateful to Prof. Leigh Hickman for bringing her expert analysis to bear yet again. If you missed her essay on It: Chapter 1, start there. And be warned—spoilers ahead! The first line of voice-over in It: Chapter 2 starts with the word, “Memory.” Like an invocation of the muse in a Homeric epic, the […]

When the World Calls Them Otherwise, God Calls Them Good

It is a scary time to be raising children. But boys come with their own narrative of misbehaviors. Boys are deemed too intense, too loud, too active. They misbehave earlier and more demonstrably than most girls. They have a much higher rate of diagnosis for challenges like ADHD and mood disorders. They spend more time […]

Hopelessly Devoted: James Chapter One Verses Two Through Four

This morning’s devotion comes from Rev. Paul Walker’s “Almost Daily Devotional,” delivered to inboxes…almost daily. Grateful for today’s message: “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.” “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that […]

Another Week Ends: American Simultaneity, Protestant Mercies, Melancholy Summers, Freedom Rock, Obvious Plants and more Daniel Johnston

1. Let’s start by heading straight to the jugular this week with “The Age of American Despair” by Ross Douthat in the Times. There’s not a whole lot to say that we haven’t said before, but hot on the heels of the tragic headlines about pastor Jarrid Wilson, it felt irresponsible to lead with anything […]