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Three Things That Aren’t Grim About the Future

Just before Lent hits and the horizon darkens, how about a glimpse of sunny skies? This is taken from the recently released Future Issue of The Mockingbird Magazine – get your copy here: Rembrandt captured the scene marvelously. In his painting, “Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem,” the wizened prophet slumps in a palace hallway, […]

Memoirs of a Geisha’s Hairline and the Halftime Show

This one comes to us from Isabella Yosuico. Some Christians are still lamenting the recent Super Bowl halftime show, murmuring disapproval at scantily clad Shakira and JLo pulsing to Latin beats and pole dancing in barely-there costumes. My own small group raised voices and prayers in sincere concern about America’s moral decay. But are racy […]

Scorekeeping on Valentine’s Day

The book tour continues for #Seculosity! Catch David Zahl as he travels to Richmond, VA, on March 4; Pittsburgh, PA (Ligonier), on March 12; and Colombia, SC, on March 18. He’ll also be presenting at The Virginia Festival of The Book in Charlottesville on March 19. In the meantime, in honor of Cupid’s holiday, here’s a snippet […]

On Being the Occasion of Joy in Rowan Williams’ “The Body’s Grace”

This is about “the doomed task of getting it right.” And by “it,” I mean sexuality. And by “I,” I mean Rowan Williams. Doomed, he says, because “[n]othing will stop sex being tragic and comic. It is above all the area of our lives where we can be rejected in our bodily entirety … And […]

An Exhausting Valentine’s Day c/o the “Religious Cards Section”

Last week I found myself flipping through wedding cards, looking for the perfect one for a friend tying the knot this month. I always have high expectations to find what I never can — the perfect mix of sincerity, humor, a nice design, and not too much cheese. It’s an impossible task. And I’ve always […]

Damaged Goods, Law/Gospel Confusion, and the Elusive Meaning of Love…

Sometimes I’m thinking that I love you But I know it’s only lust The sins of the flesh Are simply sins of lust… – Gang of Four, “Damaged Goods” The popular 80s song declares, “I wanna know what love is.” We all want to know what love is. More specifically, we want to know what […]

Signals Lead to Earplugs

In the office we recently ordered Kate Murphy’s You’re Not Listening. Murphy, a journalist based in Houston, is good at her job because she is good at listening, and has basically written a book about the lessons she’s learned in the field—what makes for a good listener, why pretend listening is so easy to sniff […]

The Long Bag We Drag Behind Us

Someone once said, “The greatest possible thing that could happen to you would be to have your worst sins broadcast on the 5 o’clock news.” In theory, maybe. But in practice? I don’t know about you, but I tend to read Jesus’ promise that “all darkness will be brought to light” as, well, ominous. Who […]

Why Ada Calhoun Can’t Sleep

I’ve been struck by the publicity surrounding Ada Calhoun‘s new book, Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis, which takes as its subject the creeping insomnia, restlessness, and burnout Calhoun has noticed among American women of her own generation. While we wait for the book itself to arrive, a couple soundbites of Calhoun tracing the shape of today’s little-l laws were too tempting not to post. And probably goes without saying but her diagnosis extends beyond the demographic in question; as a non-GenX lady, I recognize much of this in my own life. Shades of #seculosity abound! (Note how many times the word “enough” is used). This first bit is from an interview she did with NPR:

“One thing that a sociologist who studies the generations told me is that our generation [Gen X] tends to judge ourselves based on everything. So if, you know, in the past the question was, how nice is your home? Or how good are you at your job? Now it’s like, it’s all of the things. So it’s – are you a good parent? Are you good at work? Are you – you know, is your house nice? Are you in shape? Are you recycling? Like, it’s every single factor in life you have to excel at. And I think that level of pressure is unsustainable.

These next paragraphs are taken from Calhoun’s Q&A with Maria Shriver:

What I think happened to women in this generation was when we were girls we were told we could “be anything, even president!” And as I was interviewing all these women around the country I heard from them that the idea that they could do anything somehow morphed somehow into a directive that they must do everything—and do it all effortlessly. In middle age, they are likely to find that they haven’t lived up to this fantasy they had for themselves, epitomized by the crimes against humanity that were those Enjoli perfume ads about bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan. If women bought into that idea (as many of us did), they may have a family but not a career or vice versa and then feel like they are not doing enough. Even a lot of women I talked to who were doing a stressful full-time job and a lot of caregiving (the classic definition of “it all”) felt like they had failed in some way—maybe they had both work and family but they weren’t in good physical shape, their kids weren’t getting good grades, they worked all the time but still couldn’t afford a nice vacation, or they were just very, very tired…

In interviewing these women, I learned that a lot of the stress seemed to be coming out of shame—they felt they should be more successful, maybe, but also more grateful. They would say, “I’m so lucky, I have no right to complain.” And then they would describe what they expected from themselves and what they were dealing with. The responsibilities and pressures would be massive, but the thing that seemed to be pushing them over the edge into despair was this idea that they were whining if they admitted how hard it was. They would dismiss what they were feeling by making a joke about #FirstWorldProblems. And they would tell me that they knew if only they could do enough yoga or find the right herbal tea or learn about CBD oil, the feeling of unease would go away. This book tries to show that no, if you are stressed out it isn’t necessarily that you did something wrong or you haven’t made the right chore chart—maybe the deck is stacked against you.

Against Identity, or By the Grace of God I Am What I Am

“You are my eternal Father, but I am scattered in times whose order I do not understand. The storms of incoherent events tear to pieces my thoughts, the inmost entrails of my soul, until that day when, purified and molten by the fire of your love, I flow together to merge into you.” – Augustine, […]

Where Is the Gospel in Adoption?

Grateful for this anonymous piece: I became an orphan 37 years ago, somewhere in South Korea. I can’t be more specific — I don’t know when I was left, who left me, or even where. My orphanage paperwork only says that sometime that summer, “By request of [the police], we intook the child to be […]

Little Women and the Truth We’re Too Scared to Say

This response to the hit film comes to us from Grace Leuenberger. Back in August, the first trailer for Greta Gerwig’s Little Women was released to the world wide web. I watched it approximately fifteen times, enraptured by the casting, the energy, the excitement surrounding a new version of a movie I loved growing up. […]