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    This is How 30 Preschoolers and a Friend Helped Me Through a Crush and an Existential Crisis

    Ruby slouched in a corner, bottom lip bulging. The droves of other 2- to 7-year-olds ignored her, since a distressed child was more common than a calm one. I hesitated to speak, anticipating the melodrama that was about to erupt. Then it began: Me: Ruby, what’s wrong? Ruby: I want that toy. M: What toy? […]

    Who Wrote Gullible on the Ceiling? On Mesmerism, Debunking, and Belief

    On a blog like this one, we think about belief a lot. Belief as a comfort, as a maker of meaning, as a fragile gift, as an absence. By which we mainly mean belief in the Gospel. Let’s shift focus for a moment to consider this orientation of the mind (and heart) from a slightly […]

    Its Radiant Affliction: #Blessed by Empire, Wounded by God

    On the day when The weight deadens On your shoulders And you stumble, May the clay dance To balance you. (‘Beannacht,’ John O’Donohue) When my grandmother slanders someone, she always follows it with benevolence. “He’s dumb as a rock,” she’ll say, “bless his heart.” “She ain’t worth a plugged nickel, bless her heart.” I think […]

    For Walt So Loved the World

    In honor of WW’s 200th birthday, here’s this. I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. (1-3) Whitman is my favorite narcissist. His poetry overflows with ego, but instead of being stuffy, his poetic self is so all-embracing, so […]

    Son of Cloud and Being Not-Alone

    Musicians use funny names, sometimes with little rationale. Jonathan Seale has a story for his. When his parents were missionaries in Venezuela, members of the Yukpa tribe gave him the name “Son of Cloud.” Now as an adult, he’s embraced it in his self-titled first album. Seale has been producing for a number of years, […]

    Camp: Notes on Grace

    What does grace look like? If it made a movie or wore a dress, how would you describe it, aesthetically? It might be twee or kitsch, since the Gospel is such a personal message that, in our self-absorption, we often sentimentalize, then mass-produce. It could be sublime, as the drama of salvation involves the darkest […]

    “Good Friday: No Way Out but Straight Through, Jack” – Vicki Hearne

    “Good Friday: No Way Out but Straight Through, Jack”
    by Vicki Hearne (1946-2001)

    It’s like chance, but chance knocks but
    Won’t open the door, and here’s
    A greater thing than we have
    Ever done (before we learn
    What we are doing). The god
    Will become so resplendent
    With wounds our eyes must dazzle,

    But now our hands hold aloft
    The spears that dance in the light
    From the hillside. Ecstasy,
    Even, should not distract us:
    The flesh must be opened full
    To the light and wait, bleeding
    In welcome. And in welcome

    The elegant wounds will close
    With all of us safe inside.
    But we are not now to know
    With Whom we trifle, not yet
    To ask forgiveness lest we
    Not plunge the gleaming weapons
    Heartily. Grief will give wings

    And song reveal the purple
    Gold, the burnished ground, the flame.


    featured image: Cross with arma Christi, wood cross, Joaquín López Antay, Fowler Museum at UCLA.

    “All Things Are Lawful” for Christian Flesh

    “I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked, I am mad for it to be in contact with me.” (Whitman, Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself 2)   My hygiene is deficient, one friend told me. She said I needed to use lotion (she swears by Jergens), on my […]

    MORE LIFE: Blessings and a Guilty God in Angels in America

    the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force The Great Question before us is: Are we doomed? The Great Question before us is: Will the Past Release us? The Great Question before us is: Can we Change? In Time? And we all desire that Change will come. So begins the […]

    Giving Thanks at Holidays, with Family and Death

    “You brought us out of nothing into being, and when we had fallen away, You raised us up again.” My dad’s family gathered in his parents’ kitchen, all 27 of us, for the Thanksgiving thanksgiving. Before my dad’s dad prayed, as he always does at these meals, my grandma spoke up. Papa would be having […]

    And a Time to Laugh: The Comedy of Christmas in Auden and The Second Shepherds’ Play

    Christmas is ridiculous. That’s probably one reason it took the spot of ancient midwinter festivals like Saturnalia, when everything went topsy-turvy. Consider this excerpt from Auden’s For the Time Being, when Simeon at last sees Jesus: SIMEON Because in Him the Flesh is united to the Word without magical transformation, Imagination is redeemed from promiscuous […]

    Failure in the Gospel (Almost) According to Critical Theory

    Theologians of the cross emerge from unexpected sources. Which is fitting, since the Gospel is for nobody but those who fall short of expectations (AKA all of us). These purveyors and exemplars of low anthropology are psychologists, athletes, journalists, philosophers, and, beyond their job titles, just average people with their own screw-ups. What is less average […]