Category Archives: Sex

Owl Post 10-27-14

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Broken: The Power of Conversion in Louie Zamperini’s Life

unbrokenLouie Zamperini’s amazing life is the subject of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. It has remained on the New York Times bestseller list for almost four years (a remarkable feat!), and on Christmas Day the much-anticipated movie adaptation is slated for release. Although it is one of my favorite books, I have to agree with Collin Hansen: “The title is all wrong.” After the war, Louie returned home a broken man.

Why Kids Sext

stock-footage-girl-using-mobile-phone-smartphoneIt was late on a school night, so Jennifer’s kids were already asleep when she got a phone call from a friend of her 15-year-old daughter, Jasmine. “Jasmine is on a Web page and she’s naked.” Jennifer woke Jasmine, and throughout the night, the two of them kept getting texts from Jasmine’s friends with screenshots of the Instagram account. It looked like a porn site—shot after shot of naked girls—only these were real teens, not grown women in pigtails. Jennifer recognized some of them from Jasmine’s high school. And there, in the first row, was her daughter, “just standing there, with her arms down by her sides,” Jennifer told me. “There were all these girls with their butts cocked, making pouty lips, pushing their boobs up, doing porny shots, and you’re thinking, Where did they pick this up? And then there was Jasmine in a fuzzy picture looking awkward.” (The names of all the kids and parents in this story have been changed to protect their privacy.) You couldn’t easily identify her, because the picture was pretty dark, but the connection had been made anyway. “OMG no f‑ing way that’s Jasmine,” someone had commented under her picture. “Down lo ho,” someone else answered, meaning one who flies under the radar, because Jasmine was a straight‑A student who played sports and worked and volunteered and was generally a “goody-goody two shoes,” her mom said. She had long, silky hair and doe eyes and a sweet face that seemed destined for a Girl Scouts pamphlet, not an Instagram account where girls were called out as hos or thots (thot stands for “that ho over there”).

The Power of Grace

lilaMarilynne Robinson tracks the movements of grace as if it were a wild animal, appearing for fleeting intervals and then disappearing past the range of vision, emerging again where we least expect to find it. Her novels are interested in what makes grace necessary at all—shame and its afterlife, loss and its residue, the limits and betrayals of intimacy.

In Lila, her brilliant and deeply affecting new novel, even her description of sunlight in a St. Louis bordello holds a kind of heartbreak: “When a house is shut up like that in the middle of a summer day the light that comes in through any crack is as sharp as a blade.” The notion that light might hurt—that illumination doesn’t always arrive as salvation, or that salvation might ache before it heals—echoes the novel’s articulation of a more personal kind of pain. “That was loneliness. When you’re scalded, touch hurts, it makes no difference if it’s kindly meant.”

The Flash: A Welcome Anti-Vigilante

_1394660692Selling a live-action superhero for teens is a tough gig these days for DC Comics. Their current offerings include a plethora of heroes, but few role models. Instead of the wholesome Clark Kent of Smallville or Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, DC’s Superman du jour is Zach Snyder’s glum Man of Steel. In place of the tongue-in-cheek George Clooney, DC’s Batman is the morally troubled, forbidding rich-boy type played by Christian Bale. For adolescents who have outgrown Teen Titans, Marvel still dominates the market.

Doctor Who and faith: bigger on the inside

clara-capaldi-danny-series-8-2With series 8 referencing ‘heaven’, Nathan traces Doctor Who’s varied relationships with atheism and faith…

I was a massive Simpsons fan as a child. And when I say massive, I really do mean – huge. It’s still one of the more memorable moments prior to my wedding day: emptying out my childhood bedroom with my (now) wife, only for her to discover notebooks filled with minute observations about the show. Obscure number plates, birthdays of secondary characters, dates of key events and much more besides. Having already paid for the reception venue she couldn’t exactly retract her commitment to marry me, although my mind contemplated that possibility when she hyperventilated laughing at “little Nathan,” circa 1999.

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Owl Post 9-12-14

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U2′s Songs of Innocence: Familiar But Surprising, Free But Costly

738aa476The biggest surprise of the launch of U2’s new album isn’t the way it was released—it’s how good the songs are.

It has been five long years since No Line On The Horizon, an album with some great moments but one which also revealed a band in artistic decline. In those five years, they knew they were one more misstep away from irrelevance. The reports weren’t hopeful: a new producer here, a scrapped album concept there. They seemed “stuck in a moment that they can’t get out of”, finally crushed under the weight of their own ponderousness.

Apple Watch: To Wear It Like a Man — or a God?

440633-apple-watchTechnology keeps getting more and more personal. First “personal computers,” which sat on your desk, gave way to laptops, which sat in a rather more intimate position. Now laptops are giving way to tablets and phones, which nestle in your hand and slip into your pocket. And early next year, the Apple Watch will wrap around quite a few wrists, which it will tap gently to signal that a friend is calling or a message has arrived.

On Repeat: Why People Watch Movies and Shows Over and Over

190568.1020.AThe millisecond that Dumb and Dumber clicks into focus on the television screen, something magical happens to me. It can be a terrible day, a stressful day, or a sick day, but within seconds of seeing Jim Carrey’s bowl cut, I’m 10 years old again. The number of movies I have once memorized is small (The Lion King, A Few Good Men, and, inexplicably, While You Were Sleeping), but Dumb and Dumber is perhaps the only one where I have reasonably thought, “I could perform this entire film from start to finish, on my own.” On multiple occasions in college, I think I tried.

Why I Love to Read Non-Christian Book

atonementMy practice of reading goes through phases. There are times where I just cannot get enough of the newest Christian books, and there are times where reading yet another Christian book seems almost intolerable. In some seasons I love to read novels, and in some seasons I can’t stand them. I’m sure any committed bibliophile can identify with the ebb and the flow of the literary appetite.

Getting Married Is Not Enough to Fight Sexual Temptation

ring-2If you follow a certain road away from the city center, it will cross the river and lead you to the surrounding mountains. As it rises and falls with the contours of the land, it will pass cow pastures, dilapidated barns, and neat ranch houses built on family land where generations live side-by-side. Near the end of the road you’ll come to a small, brick church that just last year celebrated its 90th anniversary. The congregation is made of folks who have known each other their entire lives. They have attended school together, married together, reared children together, and even today, worship together. The oldest member was also the first to be married at the church back in 1947. Another couple recently celebrated 50 years together — she agreed to marry him one month to the day after he landed a full-time job — and yet another member could tell you about being a bride at 16.

IN WHICH WE ANSWER THE QUESTION: “WHAT CAN STAR TREK FANS DO TO ENCOURAGE CBS TO RELEASE DEEP SPACE NINE ON BLU-RAY?”

8yrv5uThe one question I get probably more than any other these days – outside of “When will the unaltered Star Wars be released on Blu-ray?” – is this: “Will CBS keep releasing remastered Star Trek series on Blu-ray, including Deep Space Nine and Voyager?” I get this question in one form or another at least several times a week. And the answer is simple: Maybe. I’ll explain in a minute. But the second part of the question is often this: “What can I do to convince CBS to remaster Deep Space Nine for Blu-ray?” That I can answer very definitively.

Owl Post 8-19-14

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The Problem with Christian Films

gods_not_deadThis past year has been the year of the Christian film. We have seen an explosion of Christian-themed and Christian-produced films, each seemingly more financially successful than the last. In the words of Scott Mendelson, box office analyst for Forbes.com, “I think we can safely say that 2014 is the year that Christian-themed religious pictures officially outnumbered comic book superhero films. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it definitely is a thing.”

Confronting Reality By Reading Fantasy

TheLionWitchWardrobe(1stEd)“If you were in a room full of books,” Lev Grossman writes in his latest novel, The Magician’s Land, “you were at least halfway home.” For Grossman, no books feel more like home than C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, which provide the template for what he likes to read—and how he wants to write. In our conversation for this series, Grossman explained what The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe taught him about fiction, what makes Lewis’s work so radically inventive, and why his own stories must step through the looking glass into fantasy.

Five Principles of the New Sexual Morality

boy_girl_symbolsThe sociologist Mark Regnerus recently published a piece for the Witherington Institute’s Public Discourse, suggesting that support for same-sex marriage in some Christian circles correlates to broader shifts in morality surrounding sexuality and relations. Survey respondents were asked to declare their level of agreement with seven statements relating to the issues of pornography, cohabitation, no-strings-attached sex, the duty of staying in a marriage, extramarital sex, polyamorous relationships, and abortion. The results illustrated pronounced fault lines between those committed to historic Christian stances on sexual morality and supporters of same-sex marriage.

I Quit Liking Things On Facebook for Two Weeks. Here’s How It Changed My View of Humanity

Facebook-Like2On August 1st, I announced that I was going to quit liking things on Facebook. At the time, I simply stated that I no longer wanted to be as active a participant in teaching Facebook how to advertise to me as I had been in the past, but another and much larger issue was my real curiosity: how was my Facebook experience going to change once I stopped feeding its engine with likes?

How To Keep the Spark Alive

sparksWhy do married couples have sex? And how can they ensure that they keep enjoying the sexual relationship throughout their marriage? This weekend I read through a pair of recent studies from the University of Toronto that offer some intriguing, though not shocking answers.

Why We Love to Read

reading-a-bookI have watched the avid outdoorsman, the fisherman, come slowly drifting by. He goes by morning after morning, day after day, always at the same time, always casting into the same locations. He is patiently waiting for the big one, waiting for that hard strike, that long battle that will land him his prize.

Owl Post 12-4-13

Owl Post: 2-3-2012

In Defense of Katniss Everdeen:

risa-rodils-catching-fireCatching Fire, the second film in The Hunger Games trilogy, has set theater records, and like its predecessor, it’s an impressive, gritty film. Suzanne Collins wrote a gripping series of young-adult novels, and the film adaptations have been well cast and well directed, especially the choice of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, the film’s star and protagonist. Lawrence manages to easily embody both Katniss’s tenacity and also her youthful ignorance at the high-stakes politics of her situation.

Why Harry Potter is Great Literature:

harry-potter-series-books-7I enjoy spending time with people who appreciate great literature. The number of my friends who are intimate with Dante or Tolkien or Austen is, as Oscar Wilde would say with a wink, “considerably above the proper average that statistics have laid down for our guidance.” My book-loving church regularly ships in world-class English professors to give lectures and field the usual round of questions about Peter Jackson’s interpretation of Aragorn and Faramir.

And I’ve noticed that in these circles, it’s often a faux pas to admit that I, like nearly every other Millennial in America, own extremely well-loved copies of all seven Harry Potter books. And I would lose all credibility with many of these people if I suggested offhand that I think the Potter books are in the tradition of the great English novels, deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence, and are easily the most morally and socially insightful works of fantasy published in this generation.

The Real Truth about ‘Boring’ Men:

10298738-silhouette-of-a-man-on-a-mountainSo not every guy proposes with lip syncingrolling cameras, and a choreographed entourage.

Yeah —  so what if  your Dad didn’t?

He just pulled that beat-up Volkswagon Rabbit of his over in front of Murray Reesor’s hundred acre farm right there where Grey Township meets Elma Township, pulled out a little red velvet box, and whispered it in the snowy dark: “Marry me?”

How Doctor Who Survived 50 Years:

Untitled-1When it started in 1963, Doctor Who should not have succeeded. A committee created it, to fill a time slot. It had a small budget. The BBC intended for it to be a children’s educational show focusing on science and history. Oh, and it debuted the night after John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

And yet it worked, as seen in the incredible hype preceding Saturday’s 50th anniversary special—an extra-long, star-filled special called “The Day of the Doctor.”

Gospel-Centered Sex?

I recently read an article from a prominent blogger on the subject of the new “gospel-centered” emphasis in books. He commented on various books that applied the gospel to every area of life from the ivory towers of theology, to the mom caught up in the chaos of home and family. One quote at the end of his blog got me thinking: There is not yet a “Gospel-Centered Sex” book; however, it is probably on the way and may well be very helpful! If a couple consistently applies the implications of the gospel to the marriage bed, they will inevitably have a healthier marriage.”

How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home:

Every Imperfect and Normal Family wants their kids to turn out right. So, we establish goals for character development and try to create an environment where our kids can mature. Church, school, sports teams, family relationships… each of these provides a context where our kids can learn to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Too many times, (Christian) parents have it as their goal to make their kids good and moral. It is as if the entire purpose of their family’s spiritual life is to shape their children into law-abiding citizens who stay out of trouble. The only problem with this goal is that it runs in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. The gospel is not about making bad people moral, but about making dead people alive. If we teach morality without the transforming power of the gospel and the necessity of a life fully surrendered to God’s will, then we are raising moral pagans.

Stopping An Affair Before It Begins:

At one time or another, most of us witnessed the devastation that comes through infidelity in marriage. We have seen marriages stretched almost to the breaking point and we have seen marriages destroyed by an unfaithful husband or unfaithful wife.

Affairs do not begin with sex. Falling into bed with a man who is not your husband or a woman who is not your wife is simply one step in a long chain of events, one decision in a long series of poor decisions.

J.J. Abrams at TED in 2007: The Mystery Box

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How to Destroy Your Marriage Before It Begins:

gods_design_for_marriage_umjrTim and Jess had only been married for eight months, but the honeymoon was most certainly over. The sweet conversations that once marked their relationship had been replaced with constant bickering. Their laughter had dulled, and their distance had grown. Their sexual intimacy had almost ceased.

A Referendum on Midlife Friendships:

friends-tv-show“We haven’t seen them in a while,” I hear myself observing every few weeks, usually in reference to friends with whom my wife and I have lost touch. Most of the time, the estrangement is purely logistical, schedules being what they are in a house with two working parents and two napping toddlers. But guilt nevertheless sets in and triggers defensiveness. Soon platitudes like “it takes two to tango” or “life happens” are being trotted out and before long, you’re castigating yourself or the other person(s), possibly deconstructing society as a whole, and any chance of reconnection has been essentially nullified.

On the Power of Story with a New Fiction Writer:

Reading fiction is fun, but is it wise? Doesn’t Scripture tell us that life is a vapor, and that we need to “make the best use of the time” we’ve been entrusted? Can reading a novel count as a valid, even wise, use of time?

Vince Gill Gets Told One More Time About Jesus (and Divorce):

F3-GILLGR_SU_C_^_SUNDAYThis week country music star Vince Gill made news for his confrontation of the Westboro Baptist protesters. While this ‘colorful’ group of believers normally likes to target military funerals, this week they had their sights set squarely on Gill and his adulterous ways. But when they showed up to protest at his Kansas City concert last week, Gill decided to confront and engage with them. As he approached the group one female protester asked him, “What are you doing with another man’s wife? Don’t you know that divorce plus remarriage equals adultery? Jesus said that.”

Mumford & Sons Taking a Break for the ‘Foreseeable Future’:

Mumford-Sons-Concert-Posters-12It’s a dark day for Mumford fans—a time to hang up your suspenders, pack away your kick drum and put your banjo back into storage. This weekend the group announced that they would be stepping back from touring and making music for “the foreseeable future.” Keyboard player Ben Lovett told Rolling Stone, “We just know we’re going to take a considerable amount of time off and just go back to hanging out and having no commitments or pressure or anything like that.” Though Mumford & Sons didn’t say they were permanently breaking up, we’ve probably heard the last from the Grammy-winning gentlemen of the road for a while …

Owl Post 8-2-13

Owl Post 2-17-12

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The Problem with Sexual Compatibility:

about-me-beach-calendar-options-couple-cute-couple-Favim.com-143393Last year, while working as a counselor at a Christian camp for young adults, I had the pleasure of spending a few months with hundreds of young men from around the country. If you have ever spent a large amount of time with a group of young men discussing life issues, you know I received a variety of crazy questions about sex.

For example, one of the campers asked, “If I’m supposed to wait to be married to have sex, how am I supposed to know if my wife and I are sexually compatible? Don’t I need to try out a few other girls first?” I wasn’t taken aback by his question because I knew he was just another teenage boy looking for an excuse to bend God’s guidelines. So I brushed off the question with a shallow answer so I could get back to the topic I was discussing.

Instagram, More Selfish than Facebook, Really?

IMG_0835Slate added to the wheelhouse of Facebookmakesyouselfishandlonely articles that seem to be littering the online atmosphere these days. And, while we would position our argument a little more towards the preexisting tendency to navel-gaze, the diagnosis for what social media makes us think is no less true for it.

But Slate makes the argument here that Instagram–that handsome friendzone we know and love, with those scrolling, squared filtered funshots–is actually a war app, where we battle our friends’ self-images with selfies of our own, and all the while lose ourselves more quickly than we would with Facebook. Slate, per usual, sounds a bit morose about it all, but they’ve got a point: the images of friends, coupled with the semi-valueless “Likes” we are expected to give and expected to expect, lead to a perverse self-image that is checked and rechecked with little payoff. Besides, the simple prettiness of the whole production is a bit misleading to experiences–awkward conversation, farts, inner-tensions.

The Wedding Vows | 20 Years Later:

Today my wife and I are celebrating 20 years of marriage. I could write the obligatory post or FB update on how amazing she is and how undeserving I am and how I’m glad we get to go on this journey together and I hope we get 20 more years on this journey. I believe those things and could easily say them and mean them.

I could talk about how much joy I still have when I see her or hear her voice. But we’ve both come to realize that after 10 years those things were easy to say, but after 20 there’s a whole lot of other things in our lives that won’t allow me to write something trite because 20 years of marriage isn’t easy. It’s been very hard. The fun of the first 10 years disappeared a bit in the light of other developments. We often say to each other, remember when we used to make up corny songs or give each other silly nicknames? Of course we remember, but we don’t do that nearly as much now. We still do some of that, but they have mostly disappeared in the light of other developments.

10 Ways to Save Barnes & Noble:

barnes_and_noble_450Dear Barnes & Noble,

When you announced the resignation of your C.E.O. and Nook failure, some may have called it the beginning of your end. Idea Logical’s Mike Shatzkin said you could only hope to “make the slide into oblivion more gradual.” But take note: not everyone is so pessimistic about your future. The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki argued that print books are still “an exceptionally good piece of technology—easy to read, portable, durable, and inexpensive,” and he referenced Codex Group findings that 97 percent of those who read e-books are still “wedded to print.”

So perhaps you aren’t a dying relic after all, and merely need some revamping. Over the past several days, commentators have burst forth with a cacophony of competing ideas for your revival. The following list contains some potentially promising options for you to consider –

The Freedom of Robert Galbraith:

51m4P63APoLAs we all know, expectations can be crippling. Success breeds expectations for more success and higher, sometimes unfair, scrutiny can be placed upon a person. This scrutiny can be debilitating, and after an acclaimed bestseller – well, what do you write next?

Last year, J.K. Rowling published her first book since the finale of Harry Potter, called The Casual Vacancy, under her own name. The book received mixed reviews, but almost all of the negative reviews (e.g. in The New York Times and The LA Times) used Harry Potter as the baseline – the standard – by which to evaluate the merits of The Casual Vacancy.

To escape the daunting pressures of recapturing the magic of Harry Potter, Robert Galbraith was born and a manuscript for the new book The Cuckoo’s Calling was written. Rowling sent the manuscript to several publishers under the pseudonym, and it was rejected at least once by the review staff of a publishing company who, I imagine, feels very foolish right now. But that was okay for Rowling, who knows failure is inevitable and can sometimes be a good thing. It was eventually accepted by Little, Brown and published in April.

 

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Owl Post 5-6-13

Owl Post 2-17-12

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The Subtle Horror of Mad Men:

mad-men-season-6-key-art-amcMad Men is a horror series. There… I said it. I didn’t believe this until recently. My impression was that it was a dark and brooding drama about the desperate and horny realities of life. This was until I had a conversation with a woman who could not watch the show. “Not watch Mad Men?” I thought… “How could you not watch Mad Men?” “You don’t understand,” she said… “Watching Mad Men to me is like watching horror movies to you.”

Why Does God Care about My Sex Life?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a little piece for Christ and Pop Culture about a Q&A session with Tim Keller at The Gospel Coalition conference. I asked about revival, and among other things, Keller said something about sex and the complex nature of doubt. Given that what he said was fairly conservative, had to do with sex and doubt, and, in all fairness, could have been reported more clearly by me, the unsurprising result was a lot of pushback—some legitimate and some not so much. Feel free to read the article and peruse the comment section for yourself.

Is the News Making Us Dumb?

7618660_600x338If you’ve been following the news the past few days you may believe that an Elvis impersonator from Mississippi is being held for mailing ricin-laced letters to President Obama, that more than 60 people died in a fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, and that two Eastern Orthodox bishops were kidnapped by terrorists and released the same day. But while each of those items contains a grain of truth, they are mostly false. The bishops were abducted, but major news agencies were fooled into believing they had been released; the death toll in the West, Texas, explosion is 15; and Paul Kevin Curtis was released by investigators who believe he might have been framed. The irony is that the people who were blissfully unaware of the latest news would be accused of being uninformed, when news hounds were likely to be the most ill-informed of all.

‘Clone Wars’ still has life in the ‘Star Wars’ universe:

Obi-Wan-Bo-KatanThere are still some battles to be fought in The Clone Wars.

The Star Wars animated series ended its run on Cartoon Network after five seasons of bringing new characters — and reintroducing some old favorites — into the franchise’s expansive mythos.

But it’s not done yet: Supervising director Dave Filoni is heading up the completion of a few story arcs that were slated for production before Lucasfilm announced in March that it was taking its animation slate in a new direction following its purchase by Disney.

The so-called ‘health foods’ that are probably killing you:

There are so many products on the market these days that are supposed to be good for us — much of it based on zero evidence. Here are 11 commonly touted “health foods” that are actually quite harmful.

1. Fruit Juices

The fruit juices you find at the supermarket aren’t always what they seem. They may have small amounts of real fruit in them, but often they are little more than water, artificial flavor and sugar.

The Future of iOS Is Looking Flat:

The odds are looking good that Apple will ditch the textured, bubbly look of its iOS software in favor of something more modern.

Citing “multiple people who have either seen or have been briefed” on iOS 7, 9to5Mac reports that the software for iPhones and iPads will sport a flatter look:

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