Life Happens in the Strangest Places

Life Happens in the Strangest Places

Why you should care

Because death’s door might just open in two directions.

We’ve heard plenty this year about ISIS militants and murderous mayhem. And yes, we report on those crucial stories, well and faithfully. But at OZY we have a particular interest in those bursts of light and life that defy odds. Or that are, simply, odd.

Take the Roman Catholic Church in Poland, which is responding to a growing demand for exorcists. One diocese distributed a questionnaire for the potentially possessed, warning fans of yoga and Halloween that they’re in peril. We’ll let you read for yourself what could happen if you listen to rock music.

Documentarian Xoliswa Sithole, meanwhile, has an intriguing approach to those who have done unspeakable things. Her works explore the suffering of women and children plagued by pandemics, poverty and war, yet the Johannesburg-based artist chooses to remain compassionate and look past the negativity compelling baddies to misbehave. “I honestly believe there’s a God in everybody,” she says. We’re not sure what we think, but we’re glad someone is operating from such a powerfully loving stance.

We see resurrection all over the fields of fishing, mental health and prosthetics. Lobster trade is snapping in Maine, for example, thanks to innovative marketing that has netted higher domestic sales and an explosion in exports. In the realm of bionics, meanwhile, disability may one day become a thing of the past courtesy of advances in interchangeable body parts and exoskeletons that integrate man and machine.

Can mental health begin where straitjackets end? Christopher Feltner is redefining the “hands-on” approach. Drawing on his background in wrestling, boxing and martial arts, he’s developed blocking techniques with soft objects that emphasize comfort, not control, for conflicts between staff and patients.

And Italian artists are daring us to rethink burial with a design project of egg-shaped pods that help create trees. Yes, it’s as strange as it sounds. Those who skew more traditional might appreciate the world of Emmitt Watson, the San Francisco Columbarium’s caretaker. In one of our absolute favorite video stories of the year, we learn about a gentle soul who helps families through their grief while keeping loved ones’ memories alive.

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