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If you grew up in a Christian home during the last thirty years, you’re a member of an exclusive clique. You lived through McGee and Me’s tornado episode, survived a youth group game that required drinking a gallon of milk, and even weathered the Newsboys’ disco phase. Remember the day you accidentally ripped your Amy Grant poster? Some tragedies are too difficult to bear.

Christian culture possesses a unique attachment for its members, and judging by the amount of nostalgia-centric artifacts surging in popularity, we can’t seem to get enough of it…CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE

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Jennifer Lawrence’s appearance in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 embodies juxtaposition. While rummaging the corridors of District 13, Katniss is modestly dressed. Humble clothes divert attention rather than absorb it. Her hairstyle is simple; her face unadorned. If you didn’t know Katniss was the Mockingjay, you probably wouldn’t have guessed it. Continue Reading…

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“If I had known more about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, I probably would not have watched it.

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s Sundance darling finds its protagonist in Greg (played by Thomas Mann), a teenage loner who spends his free time producing parodies of classic films. Greg is an enigma. Like the layout of his Pennsylvania high school divides into multiple sections, Greg’s life is purposely compartmentalized. He is on a first-name basis with nearly every group in school—he is just as comfortable bumming it with the drama club as he is high-fiving the senior class drug dealer—but his relationships are shallow and superficial. He makes small talk, and there’s little more.”

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Some of you may have seen John Oliver’s recent take on the prosperity gospel. It’s been making its rounds since Monday—for good reason. It’s energetic and thought-provoking. Fair warning: if you do watch it, be prepared for language. Continue Reading…

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During Jurassic World’s climatic showdown, the main characters find themselves lying in a stack of the park’s merchandise. Hats, shirts, etc. The image is cleverly ironic, given that consumerism brought about the film’s primary conflict. It’s also a metaphor of our own perilous state of art consumption, and, if I am being straightforward, why Jurassic World isn’t a very good movie. Continue Reading…

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Before I could offer any advice, he spouted off a list of reasons why it was OK for him to rent a hotel room on prom night. He made sure to be safe. He and his girlfriend were legal adults. He had done it before, and his emotional health seemed just fine.

I heard these excuses from a student in my youth group, a student I was supposed to be counseling. I wish I could tell you I said something that changed his mind, but I only changed the subject. That day, I realized the way I talked (and thought) about sin needed more than a makeover. It needed a renovation. In the past, I only spoke to the personal, physical consequences of sin—broken relationships, legal trouble, STDs, etc.—and my students noticed. Individualism had sneaked into my belief system, constructing obedience into a selfish statue of personal comfort. I needed a better answer than, “Sin will ruin your life.”

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I won’t spoil the end of The Jinx here—if by some chance you haven’t already read reports of the much lauded HBO documentary series—but I think it’s safe to say that the finale provided the seemingly “definitive” conclusion we all pined for in Serial. The last episode plays more like a suspense thriller than an open-ended study of the American justice system. The Jinx possesses a clear beginning, middle, and, most importantly, powerful resolution. Not that an open-ended plot can’t have a “conclusion,” but there’s a certain amount of satisfaction attached to having all the answers handed to you before the credits roll (though “all” is certainly up for debate here). Continue Reading…

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A few Easters ago, I lectured on the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. At the end of my talk, a woman chastised me in front of the group. “It doesn’t matter what theologians, scholars, or logic says. All that matters is the Bible.” Work that statement out as you may, but I think the main thrust of it was, “You just have to believe.” Continue Reading…

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I never expected what losing my dad would do to me. Some days, I don’t want to pull the covers off. Some days, I don’t want to talk to anyone. Some days, I simply want to watch television, scrolling through Netflix until I find a story that takes me to another world.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this weight, but it’s definitely the most poignant. Don’t think you have to lose a loved one for depression to be justified. Grief comes in many sizes; some big, some small enough to fit into a mailbox. Seasons like these make worshiping God feel undesirable, even complex. Yet, for all our preconceived ideas of what worshiping God is, I was reminded of a line written by my friend Alan: “Some days, rising out of bed is a great act of worship.” Honoring God can be as meager and rural as lifting our head off the pillow in the morning. Continue Reading…

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Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper is neither pro-war nor antiwar. It’s simply war. Groups and/or individuals who campaign to place the film in one of these categories over the other are, I believe, missing the point. In Sniper, Eastwood seems less concerned with pronouncing strict judgement than he is with telling a story that will provoke audiences on both sides to assess their prior presuppositions regarding the effects of violence and retaliation. Continue Reading…