March 20, 2014

Food wasn’t a good gift from God to be received and eaten with pleasure and gratitude. It was something to fear, and fear it I did. The original sin, I believed, was a kind of gluttony: a deadly sin. It was better, according to Proverbs, to put a knife to my throat than to indulge in that sin. And in a distorted attempt to please God, I came to regard almost every meal as potentially gluttonous. One day when I… Read more

March 12, 2014

My sons are small and skinny. They are nothing like the heavily muscled superheroes they admire. That’s just one reason we love How to Train Your Dragon: because while we’re used to hearing about girls’ toys being relentlessly slimmed-down, sexed-up, and princess-ified, we tend to talk less about the vision of ‘masculinity’ presented for our boys’ consumption. Hiccup is skinny and small and brilliant. He breaks the rules and breaks new ground. He is an inventor and a creator. He… Read more

March 4, 2014

I have a confession: sometimes when I’ve finished a really good novel, I miss the characters badly. I worry about what’s going to happen to those whose fates are left mysterious; I grieve for those who have suffered or died, I rejoice over marriages and babies and feel and think all sorts of things about people who don’t actually exist. But of course, there’s nothing unusual in that confession; it’s the thing that keeps us turning pages — immersing ourselves… Read more

February 27, 2014

I grew up in a Baptist church that didn’t condone the use of alcohol. But it was also located in an area where tourism was a key industry, which meant that a lot of young (and not-so-young) people were employed in restaurants. Restaurants that served alcohol. Different people in my religious circles had different opinions on the subject, but I can remember more than one conversation ending with the acknowledgement that almost anything could be construed to violate certain Christian… Read more

February 26, 2014

The dress was too small, so I wouldn’t buy it. It came in a larger size, but I wasn’t about to wear that size—in my mind, it was “too big.” We’ve all been there, inordinately focused on the size number on the label. Women have fretted about their sizes—and how sizes differ from brand to brand and garment to garment—since standardized sizing was created. One reason the current sizing system exists is to prevent women from having to admit their… Read more

February 24, 2014

  I’ve encountered a lot of sad animal stories — in books, on the web, and in real life — recently, and I’ve mused over why I find them so distressing in a recent post for Religion News Service. A friend, commenting there, noted that one of the reasons animal suffering may break our hearts so much is because animals are so very innocent; so very dependent. It reminded me of This American Life host Ira Glass’s rationale for why… Read more

February 21, 2014

I’ve written on vaccination before, and, no surprise, raised no small amount of ire each time. Recently, I’ve been wondering about the “religious exemption” that many parents abuse in order to excuse their kids from vaccines. Aside from the casual abuse of the idea of religious freedom (here expanded to “something I don’t believe in”), avoiding vaccinations means essentially drafting off of those who have them. Why doesn’t your unvaccinated kid get measles, mumps, rubella, diptheria, pertussis, or polio? Because… Read more

February 20, 2014

As the Eberhart family finishes packing the contents of their Manhattan apartment in the opening scenes of the 1975 version of The Stepford Wives, a man carrying a naked female mannequin passes by. “Daddy, I just saw a man carrying a naked lady!” reports the young daughter. “Well, that’s why we’re moving to Stepford,” her father replies. The irony is delicious: while his remark seems to indicate his disgust (“We’re getting out of this evil city with its naked plastic… Read more

February 13, 2014

I spent a fair bit of my teen years reading Focus on the Family’s Brio, a now-defunct magazine aimed at teen girls as an alternative to Seventeen, YM, and other glossy periodicals whose vision of female adolescence involved the consumption of a great deal of clothes and makeup and the pursuit of the perfect prom dress–and perfect date to go with it. While Brio was far more wholesome than the options available at every grocery checkout–on balance, I’m glad my… Read more

February 13, 2014

As Lorraine Caulton writes on the IVP website: Reading is a solitary act. For many of us it is a form of retreat—a welcomed silence and deserved rest from our demanding routines. We have our favorite spot in the house: the unmade bed, the couch long enough to doze on, or maybe the off-limits living room. Wherever it is, when we are there with book in hand and maybe our favorite cup of tea (my favorite is anything peach) all… Read more

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