What ‘The Leftovers’ Can Teach Us About Hope and the Christian Faith

Editor’s Note: This essay originally ran on Sojourners‘ Culture Watch blog. Also watch out for spoilers.

Over the past season of The Leftovers, HBO’s latest drama based on Tom Perrotta’s play of the same name, viewers have been treated to a case study in grief and faith in the midst of a life-changing event. Unlike the Left Behind series, which incorporated Christian triumphalism with terrible theology, The Leftovers examines the deeper human and spiritual issues of what would happen were two percent of the population to suddenly disappear. It is powerful and beautiful and really hard to watch (especially Episode Five). It asks the question: does life go on when your world is changed forever? Continue reading

Dear Abby is Off Today #17

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a monthly feature in which Ryan takes an actual letter written to “Dear Abby” and answers it himself. For further background see the introductory post here, or maybe also here. This post is best read at room temperature.

imageThis month’s letter was published on August 8th, 2014, and quoted in full, reads as follows:

DEAR ABBY: I always take my shower before I go to bed. My friends take their showers in the morning. Which one is correct? I wouldn’t want to go to sleep dirty. — GARY IN BROOKLYN

DEAR GARY IN BROOKLYN: You have asked one of the most contentious questions in the field of personal hygiene, right up there with “Do I really need to rinse and repeat?” and “If this shampoo says ‘no tears’ why is everyone around me in the locker room showers crying?” As a man who has been known to take a shower on several occasions, allow me to offer you the pros and cons of both sides of this eternal debate.

Night showers
Pros: As you so eloquently put it, you don’t “go to sleep dirty.” That’s especially true if your occupation involves you working with dirt, such as a construction worker, ditch digger, or Linus impersonator. And is there anything better than going to bed feeling so fresh and/or clean? Answer: not that I can think of. Answer (corrected): yes, but I forgot already. Pretty sure it involves chocolate though. Continue reading

The Growing Season, Chapter 11: Of Boats and Rings

Welcome to the next installment of The Growing Season. For previous installments click here.

‘Wh-what? Jack?”

He grinned in the escaping light, and I wondered for a second if I had fallen asleep and was dreaming. Then he reached out and took my hand, pulling me to my feet.

“You’ve been here the whole time?” I asked confusedly.

He laughed. “Yeah. I’ve been below deck, waiting for Brian to come get me. He looked toward the setting sun, then back at me. “Pretty beautiful, huh?”

I nodded, though my confusion remained. Then he lowered himself to one knee. Continue reading

Back to School Time: Tips, Tricks, and Secret Handshakes

Ok kids, Labor Day is just around the corner, so you know what that means? Yes, the  end of the 2014 fiscal year is nigh, but that’s not what I had in mind, Moneybags. I’m talking about the start of the new school year! So grab your knapsacks, put on your back-to-school best, and hide that filth under your mattress because you’ll be spending the better part of your waking hours being bossed around by teachers and autonomous school bells. To prepare you for the next nine months, I’m here to give you some tried and true back-to-school tips guaranteed to reduce noogies and swirlies by 50%:

  • Wear your newest and best outfit…on the second day: On the first day of school everyone will be wearing their hot new JNCO Jeans, hypercolor shirts, bespoke suits and whatnot. It’s a fashion arms race with mutually-assured juicebox stains the only possible outcome. Sit this one out and wow everyone on day two with your new tearaway Zubaz pants when the rest of school dons outfit #2. Check. Mate.
  • Remember to wear pants: Yes, that was just a dream. Double check before you leave the house and keep it that way.

Continue reading

Autumn is the New Spring

Now is the time of year, in these waning days of summer, when writers and bloggers like to wax poetic about the end of one season and the start of another. Having watched as the start of this glorious summer was made the winter of my discontent with each passing day, I’m not sad to see this season go. There are only so many times you can wash your sweat-and-sunscreen-stained sundresses before you yearn for the crispness of sweater weather.

So here is my poetic waxing (far less painful than a Brazilian waxing) about the change of seasons: autumn is the new spring. Continue reading