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The Seven Sacraments of Harry Potter

The Seven Sacraments of Harry Potter

In honor of the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, here is another essay from our new anthology of movie essays, Mockingbird at the Movies, available in print here and on Kindle here. 

Before anyone calls bluff on a Harry Potter essay found in a book about movies, let...

How Many Friends Have I Really Got?

How Many Friends Have I Really Got?

The most awkward part of the wedding wasn’t the foot-washing, believe it or not. Uncomfortably sensual, sure, but there was also something touching about it.

More awkward was the fact that she was there in the first place. You see, she would’ve been surprised to receive an invitation, let alone a...

But Now We’re Stressed Out

But Now We’re Stressed Out

During my senior year of high school, around college admissions time, the girl who sat in front of me in AP English turned around and made possibly the weirdest confession I’d ever heard. She said that sometimes she’d get so stressed out that she would drive to Target and hide...

Modern Origins of Anxiety: Reflections on Idolatry

Modern Origins of Anxiety: Reflections on Idolatry

In last week’s post on anxiety we traced some threads in epistemology, or the way we acquire knowledge, and particularly knowledge about our own standing to God, focusing especially the question, “in which places do we experience his presence”? One problem with a more modern, ‘scientific’ epistemology, generally speaking, is that...

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Another Week Ends: Contra-Coddling, Dumb Phones, Harambe, Optional Church, TV God, and the Millennial Whoop

Another Week Ends: Contra-Coddling, Dumb Phones, Harambe, Optional Church, TV God, and the Millennial Whoop

Kudos to the trend buckers out there, the first of whom being the University of Chicago, who sent this letter to their class of 2020 before their arrival on campus. In opposition to the kind of coddling we’ve seen surface over the past couple years in academia, Chicago promises their students that there will be no such thing as trigger warnings in their classrooms. Diversity, if it means anything at all, will be as offensive as it is accepting. Part of the job of the university, they argue, is to level the playing field of discourse—something that a culture of offense prohibits…

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Phi-lippin’ Philippians: Tony Hale and Stephen Colbert Play Bible Games

As someone who has intentionally watched every episode of The Late Show w/ Stephen Colbert and followed the trajectory of a man who came out of one of the best examples of American satire into the “normalcy” of late night, I find the best moments of his new incarnation are when religion pops up. Thursday (Aug. 25) was scattershot with Philippians verses which started with Sen. Tim Kaine–who was a Jesuit missionary for several years–and continued when Mbird favorite, Tony Hale, called out their “Bible games.” What follows is Tony Hale potentially being the only guest to seemingly out-Bible Stephen Colbert.  The moment is full of hilarity especially when placed in the context of Hale’s creation of The Haven, a meeting place in NYC for Christian artists who were outcasts from the church in his earlier days. Check it out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

 

The Postmodern Community: A Magnifying Mirror of Me

One of the most interesting books (if you are a nerd like me) I’ve read in the last couple of months is Babel, a book co-authored by Ezio Mauro, an Italian writer, and Zygmunt Bauman, a Polish sociologist. Himself a secular Jew, Bauman seems to always offer profound insight into our Western cultural climate, and if you manage to read Babel, it will likely leave you with more questions than answers. Here’s just one quote that is ripe for reflection and is good fodder on the self’s bent-inwardness (incurvatus in se):

41TCtCOvLTL…[C]ommunities came to be supplanted by ‘networks’—forms of association made to the measure of ‘self-communication’. In stark opposition to the old-style communities, a network is a grouping (more correctly, a list or a roll-call of names or addresses) meant to be selected/composed by the individual on his/her sole responsibility for the selection of links and nods. Its ‘membership’ and boundaries are not ‘given’; neither are they fixed—they are friable and eminently pliable; defined, drawn and endlessly redefined and re-drawn at will by the network’s composer placed firmly in its centre. By origin and by its mode of existence, it is but an extension of the self, or a carapace with which the ego surrounds itself for its own safety: cutting its own, hopefully secure, niche out of the dumbfounding, inhospitable, and perhaps—who knows?!—hostile offline world. A ‘network’ is not a space for challenges to the received ideas and preferences of its creator—it is rather an extended replica or magnifying mirror of its weaver, populated solely by like-minded people, saying what the person who admitted them is willing to hear, and ready to applaud whatever the person who admitted or appointed them says; dissenters, individuals holding to contrary—or just unfamiliar and thus uncomfortably puzzling—opinions are exiled (or, at least consolingly, amenable to being banished) at the first sign of their discordance.

From the Archives: Surviving November

From the Archives: Surviving November

Even though it’s not even September, the weary need their rest. As we enter a particularly vicious (and ridiculous) election cycle, we bring out from the archives our “Surviving November” series from four years back. Based on Jonathan Haidt’s work, The Righteous Mind, DZ delves into the sociology of political strife, and what hope we might be able to gather in spite of it.

 

I. Political Divides, Intuitive Dogs, and Rational Tails

Maybe the non-stop and increasingly ludicrous “opposition ads” have started to make you dread turning on the TV. Maybe you can’t read your (predominantly pop culture-focused!) Twitterfeed without getting depressed about…

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The Irreligion of the Cross

From Fleming Rutledge’s masterful new work, The Crucifixion, this comes from her chapter “The Godlessness of the Cross” (ht LM):

Yet at the most fundamental level—and this can’t be emphasized too strongly—the cross is in no way “religious.” The cross is by a very long way the most irreligious object ever to find its way into the heart of faith. J. Christiaan Beker refers to it as “the most nonreligious and horrendous feature of the Gospel.

The crucifixion marks out the essential distinction between Christianity and “religion.” Religion as defined in these pages is either an organized system of belief or, alternatively, a loose collection of ideas and practices, projected out of humanity’s needs and wishes. The cross is “irreligious” because no human being individually or human beings collectively would have projected their hopes, wishes, longings, and needs onto a crucified man.

When Life’s Gappers Get Your Goats

When Life’s Gappers Get Your Goats

A good starting place for reading the stories of George Saunders might not be Tenth of December, but The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, a fable that is as appropriate for kids as it is for adults. The story centers around the seaside town of Frip, which consists of three families: The Ronsens, a husband and wife who look exactly alike, and have two daughters who stand very still; Bea Romo, a big, angry woman with two big, angry sons, all of whom are big, angry singers; and our heroine, Capable, and her father, who live in the red house closest…

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From The New Yorker

monksmarry

A Treatise Against Christian Hypocrisy

A Treatise Against Christian Hypocrisy

Because I am an immediate devotee to anything Mark Burnett produces, I suffered through an entire season of Fox’s Coupled this summer. If you aren’t familiar with this romantic tale, then pat yourself on the back for being a better person than me. The premise is simple: twelve single women get to filter through a lot of men to see if they can ultimately be “coupled” off. You know the drill: island location, loads of Mai Tais, one affront to feminism after another.

There was one character that had me rapt for the entire season. Her name is Alexandra “Alex” Clark,…

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Bad People in The Good Place

In case you missed it during the Olympics, NBC will have a new Thursday night sitcom this fall: The Good Place (I went to high school with Michael Schur!). It’s about an abominable woman (Kristin Bell), who, by some cosmic error, ends up in Heaven.

Not surprisingly, the show appears (admittedly from the 2-minute trailer) to propagate the notion that good people go to the “good place” and bad people go to the “bad place” (although I hold out hope that the creator of Parks & Rec and Brooklyn Nine-Nine will be a bit more insightful). Of course, this is the Law, not the Gospel. It is Karma, not Grace. In contrast, the New Testament affirms that the only Good Person went to the bad place so that bad people could go to the good place.

Pep Talks and the Gospel (In a Van Down by the River)

Pep Talks and the Gospel (In a Van Down by the River)

When I was growing up with my three siblings, my dad drove us all to school every morning, and picked us up every afternoon. There was a school bus, but he liked spending that time with us, and we liked it, too, and so we piled into his car on chilly Wisconsin mornings, and he dropped us off at our respective schools on his way to work.

Every morning, he gave us a rousing pep talk. I suspect it was as much for him as it was for us. On Mondays, the pep talk went something like this: “It’s…

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A Just Relief: How the Gospel Inspires Justice and Mercy – Raleigh Sadler

Just when you thought the NYC Conference videos were finished!

A Just Relief: How the Gospel Inspires Justice and Mercy – Raleigh Sadler from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

This Week: Come See Stars in My Crown With PZ in Stamford, CT!

You Are Invited: This Wednesday Aug 24th at 7:30pm to the final installment of our summer film series, “Religious Hope From the Movies”, at the Avon Theater in downtown Stamford, Connecticut. To whet your appetite our host, Paul Zahl, produced the following blurb:

stars-in-my-crown-movie-poster-1950-1020537482I’ve never met someone who didn’t fall for this movie. We’re talking about a Hollywood Western entitled Stars in My Crown, which was released in 1950 and starred Joel McCrea. Stars in my Crown was directed by Jacques Tourneur, who made many movies you’ve heard of, such as Cat People (1942) and Out of the Past (1947).

Interestingly, Stars in my Crown was Joel McCrea’s favorite movie in which he acted, and Jacques Tourneur’s favorite movie that he directed.

You’ve got to come see this movie with us next Wednesday at the Avon Theater in Stamford.

Why?

Well, it presents a Christian minister who is the essence of grace in practice. Somewhat episodic, Stars in my Crown tells the story of a sincere, delightful, and persistent minister who is faced with problem after problem after problem in the small town where he has planted a church — from the strong resistance of the local doctor, who is a rationalist, to a power play from the town’s “big man” (and also the Klan) against an African-American senior, to an inward assault upon the minister’s own faith and confidence when a typhoid epidemic brings his ministry to a standstill.

Stars in my Crown is one of the few mainstream movies — together with the French movie Leon Morin, Priest (1961), and a small handful of others — that depicts a minister or priest with accuracy, empathy, and sympathy — in short, with Christian understanding.

At 7:30pm PZ will introduce the movie — which we featured, by the way in Mockingbird at the Movies (2015) — and right after the movie’s over, we have a special guest. Our special guest is Peter McCrea, son of Joel McCrea, who will talk about his father’s spirituality, and why it is that Stars in My Crown was his dad’s favorite.

Hope you can come.