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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. […]

A Primer for Staying Married at Christmas 

Christmas is, as we say in our household, the season of BIG FEELINGS. Expect all of them from your spouse. And from yourself. Without judgement. The other night I realized our daughter called thermometers “mothers,” and I could not find a suitable amount of Kleenex. My husband looked perplexed and said, “Are you sure that […]

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 […]

Best Couple Ever

The following comes to us from Will Ryan: My wife and I met when we were both going to seminary at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth. After we became engaged, we decided to get married in Texas because it would be easiest. Texas has a law/rule when it comes to marriage licenses: if you […]

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 […]