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Identity


Our Souls House Many Homes

For a period in 2013-14, I lost my sense of time and place. There had been too much travel. That spring, I’d happily but hectically gone to post-war Northern Uganda to do six weeks of fieldwork for my master’s thesis. It was one of the calmest places I’d ever been, characterized by a feeling of […]

The Acquittal of Our Guilty Pleasures

Music is always a near-essential for me when I hit the road. But now, more than ever, having a soundtrack to drive to feels absolutely critical. Typically, I have a playlist cued up to inject some presence into the errand I’m running to offset the Leftovers vibe I pick up everywhere I look around.  Sometimes, […]

Rumors of Realness and the Almighty Catfish in Netflix’s The Circle

In a popularity contest worth 100,000 dollars, would you choose to be yourself? Or would you pretend to be someone else, say, someone better-looking or more accomplished? This at least in theory is the question behind Netflix’s The Circle, a reality show where contestants hole up for two weeks with no phones or computers; their […]

Quarantine Side Effects

The Mini Existential Crises from Staying at Home

Love Sees All

As Much as Netflix Wishes Otherwise, Love is Definitely Not Blind

For God So Pitied the Fool: Humor and Hope in this Present Age

“Neither man nor woman can be worth anything until they have discovered that they are fools. This is the first step toward becoming either estimable or agreeable; and until it is taken there is no hope.” – William Lamb (British Prime Minister from 1834-1841) Whenever I read the Book of Proverbs, I get uncomfortable when “the […]

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 […]

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 […]

Reconciling Sorrow with Grace in Noname’s ‘Telefone’

When I remember memories don’t last forever When I deny my empty with an open letter Who gon remember me? My satellite, my empathy The wheels be chrome, chrome spiffy, the Lord with me My halo said goodbye and the floor hit me Fill the lining in the pine box, my granny fill the time […]

The Death of Curiosity: On Information Cocoons and the Frights of Surprise

On September 11, 2001, I became a cable news junkie and would be crippled by the addiction for the next decade and a half. I remember sitting in the breakroom at my dental school with the other students, watching footage played and replayed of the planes hitting the towers, of the devastation at the Pentagon […]