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My Besetting Sin: A Reflection on Mass Shootings

My Besetting Sin: A Reflection on Mass Shootings

This past weekend, I came face-to-face with one of my besetting sins. “Besetting sins,” as in, the sins that serve as particular nuisances to my body and spirit. Everyone has at least one, I think. Of course, we all have all of them. It’s just that we’re usually prone to...
The Open-Concept Family, AKA The Family Issue Opener and Table of Contents

The Open-Concept Family, AKA The Family Issue Opener and Table of Contents

As the Family Issue make its way from the printer to the post office, here’s a look at the opener, and a peek at what comes after! If you haven’t ordered a copy yet, you can do so here.  You can’t talk about families without talking about the containers they...
Right: An Unspoken Sermon

Right: An Unspoken Sermon

This one comes to us from Alan Jacobs. Anthony Trollope’s novel He Knew He Was Right is, like Shakespeare’s Othello, a story of jealousy. But not really. Its true subject is something far worse, and far more common, than jealousy. And if we understand the real point of the story,...
Three Thoughts on Denunciations and Deconversions

Three Thoughts on Denunciations and Deconversions

This is like an Onion headline, my friend texted, under which came the link “Christian dating guru says he’s getting divorced, denounces faith.” Sigh. It wasn’t a joke. If you’ve been anywhere near the Christian interwebs for the last few days, you know that he was referring to Joshua Harris,...
<i>Anhedonia</i> and Men Without Chests: The Timeless Grace of Good Memories

Anhedonia and Men Without Chests: The Timeless Grace of Good Memories

It has now been over 23 years since Wallace penned the inimitable words: “Sentiment equals naïveté on this continent [and] cynicism and naïveté are mutually exclusive.” He explained, “What passes for hip cynical transcendence of sentiment is really some kind of fear of being really human, since to be really...
Its Radiant Affliction: #Blessed by Empire, Wounded by God

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,...
Scared Silly: How Horror and Humor Helped My OCD and Prepared Me for the End of the World

Scared Silly: How Horror and Humor Helped My OCD and Prepared Me for the End of the World

This one was written by Trevor Almy. For Jim Brown and Ian Olson. Ever since I was six years old, I have struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In my early years, my illness manifested itself through an eclectic range of symptoms. I lined up my shoes. I closed closet...
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Another Week Ends: Lonely Girls, Religious Radicals, Anderson Cooper, Terrence Malick, Sleep Productivity, and the Sacrament of the Gospel

1. We’ve discussed the plight of teenage boys, but now there’s this research, from clinical psychologist Mary Pipher, about the increasing prevalence of loneliness in adolescent girls across America. Pipher talks about the 36% of school-age girls who report being anxious every day, who lack self-sufficiency and spend six to nine hours of each day […]

Fr. Walter Ciszek Did Not Mind Talking About Himself

“The man who is truly humble and very close to God does not mind talking about himself. And so I’m going to talk about myself.” – Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.[1] The speaker of the above words survived twenty-three years in the Soviet Gulag. He was tortured, sentenced to fifteen years of heavy labor, and all […]

Jim Thompson and the Killer Inside Us All

This one comes to us from Jay Mullinix. Call it a bibliophile’s guilty pleasure. I have long harbored an affinity for the mass-market paperback originals which appeared in the years following World War II. Published by such houses as Dell, Lion, Ace, Popular Library, and — most famously — Gold Medal, these novels were small […]

A Song of Forgiveness

This one comes to us from Will Ryan. I have an hour-long one-way commute. I can drive that path without much thought anymore, so I get a little bored. I now have an Audible subscription, and that helps. I subscribe to any number of podcasts. Sometimes I even listen to a baseball game. Recently, though, […]

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 […]

To Be Honest: Why It’s Hard (but Helpful) to Tell the Truth

“Before you print a poem, you should reflect on whether this verse could be of use to at least one person in the struggle with himself and with the world.” – Czeslaw Milosz Being honest is often a hard thing for me to do. I don’t actually mind it when someone prefaces their opinion with, […]

We Were Made for Addiction

There is an episode in season 3 of Sex and the City called “Are We Sluts?” and, as you can imagine, the premise involves Carrie sitting at her laptop contemplating whether she and her friends are too promiscuous. Away from the computer, Carrie wonders why her new love interest, Aidan, hasn’t yet initiated sex; Miranda […]

The Literature Is Instagram: On Self-Care, Not Self-Help

Sayonara self-help, hello self-care. From The New York Times Kate Carraway traces the evolution of the more rules-based improvement movement into the newer, more feelings-based one. Whereas self-help “sought to categorize and instruct,” self-care now aims to “to soothe and calm.” Overall, the shift is positive: When you’re agitated, angry, or anxious, instead of imposing expectations, […]

Leslie Jamison on Self-Forgiveness and Shame

The most recent edition of Image features a lovely interview with Leslie Jamison. We can’t stop writing about her, especially after her extraordinary talk at our conference this year in New York. In the interview, she discusses a number of other concerns—the fear that our feelings are clichés, that privilege and difference inhibit resonance with […]

Always a Little Homesick

This reflection, drawn from a recent sermon, was written by Amanda McMillen. [Abraham] set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents… They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for […]

The ICE Raid in Mississippi: Hitting Close to Home

I wish that I could care less about the ICE raids in my home state of Mississippi. I wish that I could write people off as breaking the law or irresponsible parents. I also wish I could feed my self-righteous anger by being on the right side of justice. But that just feels like a […]

The Grace of Ordinary Dog Days

It’s summer and the liturgical calendar rolls through Ordinary Time. True enough, the phrase “The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time” doesn’t exactly titillate the senses. But this “ordinary” does not imply commonplace or routine events. It refers to a sequence of ordinal numbers—first, second, third and so on. For followers of Christ, this “ordinary” denotes […]