Catastrophe’s Refreshingly Ancient Take on Marriage [sharing at Think Christian this week]

read the whole article at Think Christian

If you haven’t seen Catastrophe, a British sitcom available on Amazon, consider this article a cautious encouragement to check it out. Fair warning, though: if you are generally opposed to bawdy body humor, unambiguous adult content, and recurring sexual situations, you should probably stay away. (So Mom, if you’re reading this, don’t watch Catastrophe.)

Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan write and star in the series, which is unapologetically and often crudely about sex. It’s sex that brought the two strangers together while Rob, an American, spends a week on business in London and meets Sharon, from Ireland, at a bar. They spend six days together, assuming they’ll never see each other again. But the affair leads to an unplanned pregnancy. What happens next is where the show progresses from gratuitous to gratifying. Sharon wants to keep the baby. Rob wants to keep the baby and marry Sharon. From this point forward, they manage to tell a contemporary story about the ancient idea of married love between one man and one woman with a lot of humor, a lot of suffering, and a lot of ridiculously ordinary affection.

I first heard about Catastrophe, curiously enough, from Eloise Blondiau’s positive review in a Jesuit publication. Blondiau describes an important scene in the final episode of the first season. It’s the honeymoon night, where Rob’s romantic overture toward the eight-months-pregnant Sharon involves—wait for it—an offer to trim the toenails on her exhausted feet. The review had me at “toenails.” This is a scenario I find far more relatable in my 27 years of married love than almost any other televised intimacy between a husband and a wife I can recall. The fact that the scene ends not in an embrace but an argument only added to its credibility.

I’ve been sleeping with one man for the past 27 years and despite what some evangelical slogans might have you believe, sex with my husband hasn’t always been a thrill a minute, let alone a reenactment of the Spirit-inspired eros found in Song of Solomon. For all its crudity, Catastrophe does a better job than any rom-com I’ve ever seen evoking my laughs of recognition. In sickness and health, for richer or poorer, through arguments, dysfunctional extended families, parenting chaos, and various crisis in their community of friends, Rob and Sharon fight to be together in every way possible, especially in bed.

This mutual desire fuels my new, all-time favorite romantic line...

read the whole article at Think Christian
 


Bonus feature:

Believe it or not, I've written about married sex on this blog before. Most notably, this post: Flying a kite in a hurricane (aka, Our Family Tradition of Honeymoon Babies)

Three generations of wedlock -- all 3 of us brides giving birth to our first baby about 9 months following the moment this photos were taken. 

Three generations of wedlock -- all 3 of us brides giving birth to our first baby about 9 months following the moment this photos were taken. 

Recently Natalie and I were talking about the implications of young, long marriage. She asked if I ever thought about what it would be like to marry somebody other than my husband, her father. Without any pause, I said, “I have thought about that and you know what? If I had limitless opportunities to start over again, to choose anyone else to marry, I’d still pick your Dad. Every single time.”

Now that I’m thinking about it, that was my paraphrase of Rob & Sharon's pledge: “I fancy you. I very fancy you.”


Do you have a favorite television or film depiction of marriage? I'd love to know!

Top 5 books with an interesting subtitle I've read so far this year

Friends, our reading year is half over! (I'm not the only one who measures time this way, am I?) If you follow any sort of reading challenge for the year, I thought I could help you fill in some of the categories with what I've been reading so far this year.  (For what it's worth, I chose these categories from this popular reading challenge.) 

Previous Top 5s: 

Top 5 books published in 2017 I've read so far this year

Top 5 books about an interesting woman I've read so far this year

Category: A book with an interesting subtitle

Anyone else intrigued with the words that come after the main title? Sometimes it's my favorite part - although in one of my picks, I actually wish the author'd gone with something different.

 

1. At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider (Thomas Nelson, 2017. 288 pages)

To be honest, I'm always afraid I won't be unbiased enough to give a proper recommendation for a friend's book. Then, I swing too far the other way and don't give it enough kudos. I'm trying to get better at that because I'm lucky to have a surprising number of friends who've written books. Tsh is a friend, AND this is is a great book. She tells the story of the nine months she and her husband took their 3 kids (ages 10 and under) on a trip around the world. If you are a traveller, you'll enjoy learning from the Oxenreider's travel savvy. If not, you'll still enjoy the book for it's winsome reflections on the need for all humans to know a place called home. Reading Tsh's book felt like chatting over a relaxed dinner with friends - both enlightening and comforting. This was a book I didn't want to put down, and I wholeheartedly recommend.

 

2.  To Alter Your World: Partnering with God to Rebirth Our Communities by Michael Frost & Christiana Rice (IVP Books, 2017. 240 pages)

I read this book for Englewood Review's latest print journal, and will post a link when my (thumbs up) review is available online. In the meantime, subscribe to ERB here! 

 

3. Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Beacon Press, 256 pages)

We read this together with our church's reading group (Apostles Reads).  Written in 1967, this is the last book Dr. King wrote before being assassinated in 1968. The title alone felt important for our current political climate in the U.S. I will write a longer review soon, but for now I'll say that this as provocative and prescient as anything I've ever read/heard from Dr. King. I'm grateful for the group of thoughtful people who were willing to read along with me, and engage in the deep conversations the book initiates.

 

4. Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters -- And How to Talk About It by Krista Tippett (Penguin Books, 2008. 240 pages)

For the past year or so, I've been listening to the On Being podcast with Krista Tippett.  This is my first time reading her, and I feel like I've found another important mentor.  Tippett is eloquently skilled at communicating her own faith while intelligently engaging people of all faiths to share their own stories.  This is a rare skill, and I want to grow in it.

5.  The Way of Letting Go: One Woman's Walk Toward Forgiveness by Wilma Derksen (Zondervan, 2017. 240 pages)

I read this newly-released book for a review at one of my favorite book recommendation sources, the Englewood Review of Books.  Once the review is published, I'll update here. In the meantime, if you are hoping to become a person able to live in the freedom that comes with radical forgiveness, add Derksen's book to your must-read pile.  It's a hard and redemptive story, as characterizes most profound Gospel stories. (update:  The book review can now be found at ERB's site here).


I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!  

What are some of the best books you've read so far this year? 

#

Here's all the books I've read in JanuaryFebruaryMarch/April, & May/June.

Go to my reading lists page to see my reading lists from 2016 and previous years.

Here's my Goodreads page. Let's be friends!

p.s. there are all kinds of affiliate links in this post because I'm trying to be a good steward, and when you buy something through one of these links you don't pay more money, but in some magical twist of capitalism we get a little pocket change. Thanks!

Happy Saturday! (7 Quick Takes)

What I've been up to lately: places, people, books, podcasts, music, links & more for your weekend downtime.

(1) gorgeous family wedding

On Sunday, our nephew Ben married his sweetheart Ronnie on a beautiful lake in upstate NY. (photo credit: Tiffany Hall Folk)

On Sunday, our nephew Ben married his sweetheart Ronnie on a beautiful lake in upstate NY. (photo credit: Tiffany Hall Folk)

We loved every minute!

We loved every minute!



(3) books I'm reading

Commonwealth: A Novel by Ann Patchett (recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy)

Chicago: A Novel by Brian Doyle (chose after listening to this podcast)

A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997 by Wendell Berry (An Ordinary Time selection for our church's reading group.)

We carry the Wendell Berry poems with us everywhere we go this summer. Here Brian's reading during our hike at Kent Falls State Park.

We carry the Wendell Berry poems with us everywhere we go this summer. Here Brian's reading during our hike at Kent Falls State Park.


(4) siblings & their Mom

More from the wedding. We're just missing Brian's brother Jim in this sweet family photo.

More from the wedding. We're just missing Brian's brother Jim in this sweet family photo.


(5) art & faith-related links I love

Nick Offerman On How He Got Involved With Wendell Berry. Find a way to see the documentary Mr. Offerman is promoting in this clip. We did, and it was worth every minute. | via Englewood Review of Books

Art, Conflict & Remembering: Travelling Exhibition of the Bogside Artists. It's been a year since we toured Ireland (see links from our trip below) and I will never forget the murals of the Bogside Artists in Derry/Londonderry. This exhibition should be excellent.

Prayercast videos. A friend working in a difficult part of the world sent me one of these links recently. The videos have helped me pray more intelligently about all parts of the world. Sign up to receive a weekly email to help you join in prayer with the world for the world.

New Film Trailer for Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. This book and this movie are definitely going into the queue for our church's reading group for next spring. | via Englewood Review of Books

The Cosmic Glory of Sufjan Stevens' Planetarium - I'm so excited to listen to this new album from a truly inspired musician. Make sure you click on the music video at the end of the post. | via Think Christian


(6) blog posts from this week in the archives

2016 - Ireland! (A year ago on July 14th we returned from our month in Ireland. All the posts with all the photos.)

2015 - Monday morning thoughts: Dancing bear act, crash helmets, and a Doxology (a stream-of-consciousness meditation on the Anglican liturgy)

2012 - 5 pieces of art inspired by the great American road trip

2010 - "Sometimes we have to change jobs in order to maintain our vocation." - Eugene Peterson (If I'd known in 2010 we were on the brink of so much change, I probably wouldn't have believed it. A prophetic post...)

2008 - Transforming Culture Symposium #1: THE GOSPEL (Andy Crouch) (You could also title this series The Origins of Tamara's Mind Blown.)

2006 - The summer our town flooded - here, here, and here (another life-changing event, captured in the earliest days of this blog)

1 year ago in Ireland

I HAVE SEEN LANDSCAPES, NOTABLY IN THE MOURNE MOUNTAINS AND SOUTHWARDS WHICH UNDER A PARTICULAR LIGHT MADE ME FEEL THAT AT ANY MOMENT A GIANT MIGHT RAISE HIS HEAD OVER THE NEXT RIDGE,' HE WROTE IN HIS ESSAY ON STORIES. WHILE LIVING IN ENGLAND HE SPOKE OF THE MAGIC OF NORTHERN IRELAND: 'I YEARN TO SEE COUNTY DOWN IN THE SNOW, ONE ALMOST EXPECTS TO SEE A MARCH OF DWARFS DASHING PAST. HOW I LONG TO BREAK INTO A WORLD WHERE SUCH THINGS WERE TRUE." - C.S. LEWIS


(7) fun friend photos from this week


May your weekend include sunshine, beauty and a good laugh, friends. Peace...

p.s. This post contains affiliate links because I'm trying to be a good steward, and when you buy something through one of these links you don't pay more money, but in some magical twist of capitalism we get a little pocket change. Thanks!

Top 5 books about an interesting woman I've read so far this year

Friends, our reading year is half over! (I'm not the only one who measures time this way, am I?) If you follow any sort of reading challenge for the year, I thought I could help you fill in some of the categories with what I've been reading so far this year.  (For what it's worth, I chose these categories from this popular reading challenge.) 

Previous Top 5s: 

Top 5 books published in 2017 I've read so far this year

Category: A book about an interesting woman

Putting this list together was easy because I realized I love reading about interesting women (fictional or real-life!). It was also hard because I could have added a bunch more! What are your favorite books about interesting, strong, funny, quirky, talented, kind, fierce women?

 

1.  The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (Penguin Books, 2003. 336 pages )

The heartbreak of this story is beautifully overshadowed by the beauty of its characters. A book I will re-read every couple of years. I haven't read a book that better describes the beauty of female relationships than this - pass it on!

2.  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Broadway Books, 2011. 381 pages)

My daughter Natalie read this in an ethics class for school, and promptly put it in the book pile on my night stand. It took me a while to get to it, and then a while to finish reading it. It's a fascinating, sad, and important story about the history of bio ethics, medical research and the way racism permeates our social institutions at deep levels. This is a story with both a personal (Henrietta Lack's tragic life and the struggle her family faces still today) and epic ("One scientist estimates that if you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—an inconceivable number, given that an individual cell weighs almost nothing.") in scale. Anyone who's had a polio vaccine owe Henrietta a debt of gratitude, not to mention the countless other ways her cells (still alive today in research labs around the world) have benefitted human health, but most of us have never heard of her. Rebecca Skloot does a beautiful job of telling a complex story about science through the lens of story. I heartily recommend this book! (You can read an excerpt here at the author's excellent website.)

3.  You Carried Me: A Daughter's Memoir by Melissa Ohden (Plough Publishing House, 2017. 160 pages)

The well-documented and dramatic details of Melissa Ohden’s survival stand on their own as an important memoir, and are made more valuable by an invitation to readers to consider their own experiences of suffering. See my full review here. 

4.  Still Life With Bread Crumbs: A Novel by Anna Quindlen (Random House, 2014. 288 pages)

Rebecca Winter is a photographer well known for work she's done in the past, and wanting to make something new. She moves from her luxe city life to a cabin in the woods and befriends a quirky cast of characters who were easy for me to love, too. Pleasant reading. Well-written characters and interesting plot line. A great vacation book!

5.  Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters -- And How to Talk About It by Krista Tippett (Penguin Books, 2008. 240 pages)

For the past year or so, I've been listening to the On Being podcast with Krista Tippett.  This is my first time reading her, and I feel like I've found another important mentor.  Tippett is eloquently skilled at communicating her own faith while intelligently engaging people of all faiths to share their own stories.  This is a rare skill, and I want to grow in it.


I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!  

What are some of the best books you've read so far this year? 

#

Here's all the books I've read in JanuaryFebruaryMarch/April, & May/June.

Go to my reading lists page to see my reading lists from 2016 and previous years.

Here's my Goodreads page. Let's be friends!

p.s. there are all kinds of affiliate links in this post because I'm trying to be a good steward, and when you buy something through one of these links you don't pay more money, but in some magical twist of capitalism we get a little pocket change. Thanks!

Top 5 books published in 2017 I've read so far this year

Friends, our reading year is half over! (I'm not the only one who measures time this way, am I?) If you follow any sort of reading challenge for the year, I thought I could help you fill in some of the categories with what I've been reading so far this year.  (For what it's worth, I chose these categories from this popular reading challenge which is maybe not the best fit for this blog.)

 

Category: A book that's published in 2017

It'll be fairly obvious that I'm not a "hot off the presses" kind of reader. I've been fortunate this year to have the opportunity to review several new releases, and many of them are on this list. What's your favorite newly published book? 

1. At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider (Thomas Nelson, 2017. 288 pages)

To be honest, I'm always afraid I won't be unbiased enough to give a proper recommendation for a friend's book. Then, I swing too far the other way and don't give it enough kudos. I'm trying to get better at that because I'm lucky to have a surprising number of friends who've written books. Tsh is a friend, AND this is is a great book. She tells the story of the nine months she and her husband took their 3 kids (ages 10 and under) on a trip around the world. If you are a traveller, you'll enjoy learning from the Oxenreider's travel savvy. If not, you'll still enjoy the book for it's winsome reflections on the need for all humans to know a place called home. Reading Tsh's book felt like chatting over a relaxed dinner with friends - both enlightening and comforting. This was a book I didn't want to put down, and I wholeheartedly recommend.

2.  The Reckless Way of Love: Notes on Following Jesus by Dorothy Day (Plough Publishing House, 2017. 149 pages)

Promoted in a line of "Backpack Classics" in Plough's Spiritual guides, this little book provided the perfect introduction for me to become better acquainted with Dorothy Day's personal reflections on faith and ministry. I enjoyed D.L. Mayfield's encouraging introduction to the book. You can read an excerpt here: Confronted by Dorothy: A Christian Activist Reckons With a Modern-Day Saint.

3.  To Alter Your World: Partnering with God to Rebirth Our Communities by Michael Frost & Christiana Rice (IVP Books, 2017. 240 pages)

I read this book for Englewood Review's latest print journal, and will post a link when my (thumbs up) review is available online. In the meantime, subscribe to ERB here! 

4.  You Carried Me: A Daughter's Memoir by Melissa Ohden (Plough Publishing House, 2017. 160 pages)

The well-documented and dramatic details of Melissa Ohden’s survival stand on their own as an important memoir, and are made more valuable by an invitation to readers to consider their own experiences of suffering. See my full review here. 

5.  The Way of Letting Go: One Woman's Walk Toward Forgiveness by Wilma Derksen (Zondervan, 2017. 240 pages)

I read this newly-released book for a review at one of my favorite book recommendation sources, the Englewood Review of Books.  Once the review is published, I'll update here. In the meantime, if you are hoping to become a person able to live in the freedom that comes with radical forgiveness, add Derksen's book to your must-read pile.  It's a hard and redemptive story, as characterizes most profound Gospel stories. (update:  The book review can now be found at ERB's site here).


I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!  

What are some of the best books you've read so far this year? 

#

Here's all the books I've read in JanuaryFebruaryMarch/April, & May/June.

Go to my reading lists page to see my reading lists from 2016 and previous years.

Here's my Goodreads page. Let's be friends!

p.s. there are all kinds of affiliate links in this post because I'm trying to be a good steward, and when you buy something through one of these links you don't pay more money, but in some magical twist of capitalism we get a little pocket change. Thanks!