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Making Culture in the Consumption Echo-Chamber

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I. In the fall of 2013, I loaded into a fifteen-passenger van in Grand Rapids, Michigan, heading for Toronto. We wove north of Detroit, across the bridge and over the Canadian border, destined for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). On my last night in town, I sat in the back row of a packed theater to watch the premiere of Jason Reitman’s Labor Day. The moments of... Read More

They Do Not Realize We Are Bringing Them the Plague

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The basic thing about analysis is that people finally realize that they’ve been talking nonsense at full volume for years. —Jacques Lacan, Écrits   Sailing into New York Harbor, Sigmund Freud stood on the deck with Carl Jung and gazed out at the statue illuminating the world.[1] Their arrival was a much-anticipated event for American psychologists so very curious of what this... Read More

Welcome To Earth

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Welcome. This film documents an event that has yet to take place. —The Visit   The Visit is a documentary about the earth’s first encounter with alien life form. Although this event has yet to take place, this is not a sci-fi or end-of-the-world narrative film. This is a documentary that presents real-life experts with the what-ifs of an alien encounter. It includes the... Read More

Trauma and the Technology of Participation

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The history of humanity is one of boundary, which we wish to conquer, and technology, that by which we conquer. We see this in all forms of technology, from the earliest stone axe to the latest iPhone iteration. In the West, secular and religious cultures still adore technological advance, and while modern technological advance has afforded us many incredible gains in power and... Read More

How Cancer Made Me Less of a Bastard (and More Human)

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There is a beloved story among whiskey-drinking Nashville Christians involving the regional oddity that is Will D. Campbell. He was a double-traitor of sorts, first to poor, white southerners when he became a civil right activist and then later to his fellow activists who wondered what would possess a man to minister to the racists. The story goes that an unbelieving friend, who... Read More

On Boyhood, Tralfamadore, and the Meaning of Life

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I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. —Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five   Tralfamadorians, of planet Tralfamadore, where flying saucers come from, cast a bleak vision of life outside time. These extraterrestrial... Read More

Salvific Communities and Practices of Resistance: A Feminist Theological Response to Trauma

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In Trauma and Recovery, Judith Herman argues that trauma healing is only possible within healthy relationships.[1] She says that survivors need an empowering community of support in order to heal. In the United States, the normative community is the nuclear family, but how do survivors of domestic violence heal if that community is a source of violence and trauma? Given the familial... Read More

The Trauma of God

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It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. —Hebrews 10:31 NJB   god (n.): Old English god “supreme being, deity; the Christian God; image of a god; godlike person,” from Proto-Germanic *guthan (cognates: Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch god, Old High German got, German Gott, Old Norse guð, Gothic guþ), from PIE *ghut- “that which is invoked” (cognates:... Read More

Pilgrimage, Geography, and Mischievous Theology

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One hundred years ago, the Scottish poet Edwin Muir mourned that Christianity had apostatized by abandoning its incarnate, embodied grounding. In his poem “The Incarnate One,” he laments that “The Word-made-flesh here is made word again.”[1] In our generation, Charles Taylor coined the problem even more succinctly: excarnation. This inclination to strip Christianity of its... Read More

The African Woman’s Suffering: Hermeneutics, Geography, and Liberation Theology

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When it comes to suffering, geography matters.[1] Where we live determines how we suffer and how we respond to that suffering, how we search for healing and hope. It is unsurprising, therefore, that the collective suffering wrought by colonization has molded indigenous theologies toward a hermeneutic of liberation. In many ways, African women’s theology arose as a direct response... Read More