Forget Tinder. Pop culture is side-hugging courtship hello.

imrsBy Alissa Wilkinson

Last April, Josiah Duggar — of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting”—announced that he was entering into a “courtship” with Marjorie Jackson. People magazine described what they’re doing as “an older-fashioned way of dating that has couples getting to know each other as a preparation for marriage.”

Duggar was not the first of his siblings to do so, and they are not trendsetters.

That “older-fashioned” practice of Christian courtship became popular some time in the mid-1980s, particularly among very conservative communities, who often practiced homeschooling and met in home churches. The goal is to eschew modern dating practices. Couples gain parental blessing for their relationship, often mediated through the father; spend time together only in the presence of chaperones; and save physical contact (including kissing and hugging) for after the wedding.

The ability to choose your own spouse seems like an inalienable right to many Americans. Technology can help eliminate some of the variables — about 35 percent of spouses now meet online, and a Tinder revolution is in full swing — but at the end of the day, it’s up to grown adults to decide who they’ll marry.

But a close look at pop culture reveals a certain weariness with the self-screening process, an acute awareness that it’s still hard work to find love.

Read the rest of Alissa Wilkinson’s article in the Washington Post HERE.

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How the church gave B.B. King the blues


By Daniel Silliman

He was attracted to the Church of God in Christ because of the music. The King family had been Baptist. The Baptists’ musical tastes were more staid, more traditional than the young King liked, however.

“If you were in the Baptist church, they didn’t want you to bring a guitar in,” he said in an interview with the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1999. “So I didn’t really dig the Baptist church too much.”

The pastor of the local Church of God in Christ, on the other hand, played a Sears Roebuck Silvertone guitar. The Rev. Archie Fair led church with his guitar.

The church was a part of a strict sect of pentecostals, who believed true Christians could live free from sin, “sanctified.” In some ways, the Church of God in Christ was more conservative than the Baptists. But not when it came to music. King thrilled to the church’s worship style.

One fateful Sunday, a pentecostal pastor taught King to play three basic chords.

After that, King was converted.

He volunteered to be a janitor at the church so he could spend time with the instruments. Though King worked all week in the cotton fields, he taught Sunday school to children younger than himself. He got the nickname “church boy” and didn’t care.

King soon found more thrilling music outside the walls of church, though. An aunt, only a few years older than King, exposed him to her collection of 78 rpm records. She played him Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lonnie Johnson. He started going to the store in Indianola, Miss., on Saturdays to listen to the blues on the radio. A cousin, Booker “Bukka” White, was living in Memphis, making a living playing the blues, and would come back to Mississippi sometimes with a beautiful guitar and sharp new clothes.

Still, the blues seemed shameful to King. They were exciting but felt wrong.

“I was ashamed, man,” King told the BBC in 1972. “The people around us was very religious. I always say they were very religious, very hypocritical. Because, if they wasn’t religious, they seemed to act the part.”

Read Daniel Silliman’s entire Washington Post article HERE.

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Nun who kissed Elvis raises millions for monastery

Actress turned Benedictine cloistered nun Mother Dolores in the Abbey of Regina Laudis

Actress turned Benedictine cloistered nun Mother Dolores in the Abbey of Regina Laudis

Mother Dolores Hart finds it miraculous that she was able to turn one kiss with Elvis Presley into the spark that helped save an abbey.

The former starlet who walked away from Hollywood in 1963 to become a nun spun her tale into a fundraising campaign for her crumbling monastery in rural Connecticut.

But the pot boiler about Presley’s first on-screen kiss and the girl who turned from the screen to sisterhood has done more than keep open the doors of Abbey of Regina Laudis. It has inspired new interest in its monastic work.

Now she and the other nuns hope to raise up to $9 million to restore the order’s former brass factory for future generations. They have already raised $3 million.

Mother Dolores, now 76, first shared her story with The Associated Press in 2011 as she and about 40 other members of her Benedictine order faced the possibility that their abbey in Bethlehem would close

Fire officials had found numerous fire code and safety issues in what was a ramshackle collection of factory buildings, barns and sheds that were linked together in 1947 after the nuns purchased the old industrial site.

Mother Dolores went on to write an autobiography, embark on a speaking tour, and make TV appearances. In 2012, she returned to Hollywood to attend the Academy Awards when a documentary short about her life, God is the Bigger Elvis, was nominated for an Oscar.

To read the rest of the story, click HERE.

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Lynch reviews Caitlin Doughty’s book on death


By Thomas Lynch, Christian Century

In the promotional material for Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, we are promised “a peek behind the black curtain,” a revelation of “life’s terrifying secret” by a young woman at work burning dead bodies in California—a high priestess, albeit self-appointed, in the “alternative death” community.

Spoiler alert: we die. There are no alternatives.

Caitlin Doughty belongs to the selfie generation, so she comes by her fascination with her particulars honestly. To be young and female in a crematory enterprise would be special indeed had it not become the norm some time ago. Once a mostly male endeavor, like the Marine Corps and the Rotary Club, funeral work has been feminized. The exception has become the rule.


Her book, if not a must-read, is a really good one; if not an essential text, no less essentially instructive. Doughty has mined a deep vein of reliable witnesses—literary, secular, classic, and collegial—and adds to their best shots at the big questions her own provisional formulations. Continue reading

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Dostoevsky on beauty


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Flannery O’Connor on truth


“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”
Flannery O’Connor

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Robert Randolph and the North Mississippi All Stars

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 1.53.42 PMCheck out Robert Randolph and the North Mississippi All Stars — known as The Word — performing “Come By Here” on Conan O’Brien. Click HERE.

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Mary, Motherhood, and My Inner Punk Rocker

By Angela Doll Carlson
Special Mothers Day excerpt from Nearly Orthodox

MY FAVORITE STATUE AT ST. TERESA OF Avila Church was that of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was situated at the front, close to the altar, near the alcove on the left side of the church. I always thought that alcove was a sitting room, a waiting area, as there were pews there and statues and relics. I wanted to sit on those seats, light those candles, watch the Mass from that angle, in the company of Mary.


Mary, Queen of the Universe

In later years that alcove would be where the musicians would reside during the Mass. Mary, Queen of the Universe, stood watch over the advent of the guitar Mass in the late seventies at St. Teresa of Avila. Before it moved to the alcove in the main church, the guitar Mass began in the basement of the church, in a sort of makeshift chapel with acoustic tile ceilings and shiny linoleum flooring. The space doubled as a fellowship hall, a housing for Vacation Bible School in the summer, and a gathering place for waiting wedding parties and mothers with crying children. It was cold in the basement church but my parents preferred it to the upstairs church on Sunday mornings. The thick, black perfect-bound hymnal was absent from the guitar Mass, and in its place was a pressboard book with photocopied song sheets, lyrics only, Mother Mary blue.

Mary was ever-virgin, always wearing blue, pristine robes, and to this day when I see that color I think, “Mother Mary blue.” She wore a crown of stars and at her feet was the whole earth- Queen of the Heaven, Queen of the May. I sang the “May Day” song all year round, though I was never the one chosen to crown her and she was unapproachable. She was set above us, too holy to touch, Queen of the May.


Theotokos of Vladimir

As much as I wanted to know her, I felt that we were not alike, the way I was not like the other girls in my class, not like the other women in my Protestant church communities, the other women in my grocery store line or college classes, or the other mothers at the park. Who is like me? The icon of the Theotokos of Vladimir would see me from her place on my altar day after day at home and at Vespers on Saturday, complaining about being unlike anyone, being left out and alone. I’d complain that all the other stay-at-home moms I know hold things together: they make the dentist appointments, they clean the kitchen counter, they put away the laundry. All the other stay-at-home moms take a shower in the morning, they put on clean clothes, they brush their teeth. All the other stay-at-home moms go to the gym, revel in their children’s scouting or sports or academic achievements. All the other stay-at-home moms are grateful they are at home; they want to be mothers, they want to be at home. We’re not alike. Continue reading

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Surprised by hope: Why Christians flocked to ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ an atheist’s film


Christians were among a record number of Americans flooding theaters this weekend to see a Bible-quoting movie where good versus evil climaxes in an ancient church building. Yet, Joss Whedon, writer/director of “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” is an avowed atheist.

Pulling in the second largest opening weekend ever, behind only previous “Avengers” film, the latest Marvel movie made $191.3 million. Whedon’s latest superhero adventure resonates with Christians because, in addition to the religious symbolism throughout, quiet hope and joy serve as the foundation for the loud explosions and frenetic action.

To read the rest of this Washington Post story, click HERE.

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Natalie Portman, Black Swan, and false idols

APTOPIX 83rd Annual Academy Awards - Show

Natalie Portman on her Oscar from Black Swan: “I don’t know where it is,” she says. “I think it’s in the safe or something. I don’t know. I haven’t seen it in a while. I mean, [Black Swan director] Darren [Aronofsky] actually said to me something when we were in that whole thing that resonated so deeply. I was reading the story of Abraham to my child and talking about, like, not worshipping false idols. And this is literally like gold men. This is lit­er­ally worshipping gold idols — if you worship it. That’s why it’s not displayed on the wall. It’s a false idol.”

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