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Law and Grace in the Competition of Marriage

Law and Grace in the Competition of Marriage

Hard to believe we’ve never posted this section from Paul Zahl’s Grace in Practice before. As with most of the provocative second half of that book, it goes well beyond abstractions and gets uncomfortably close to the bone–in the best possible way. The language here has to do with marriage,...

Simultaneously Frazzled and Fragile: Surviving a Culture of Overachievement

Simultaneously Frazzled and Fragile: Surviving a Culture of Overachievement

It’s getting to the point where I’d almost rather not draw attention to articles like Frank Bruni’s “Best, Brightest–and Saddest?”. Not just because I wish their subject matter wasn’t as urgent as it is, or that their claims were more groundless, but because the whole thing has become so excruciatingly obvious....

The Italo Gospel Is Foolishness (But to Us…It Is the Power of God)

The Italo Gospel Is Foolishness (But to Us…It Is the Power of God)

Have you ever heard of Italo? The name refers to a genre of music that was made primarily in Italy (though not exclusively), and is basically a catch-all term for the pop music of 1980s Italy. What could be more intriguing?

Like any genre of music, Italo carries with it degrees...

Pitcher Gone to Pasture: The Incurable Mystery of Steve Blass

Pitcher Gone to Pasture: The Incurable Mystery of Steve Blass

A pitcher is the only man in baseball who can properly look on the ball as being his instrument, his accomplice. He is the only player who is granted the privilege of making offensive plans, and once the game begins he is (with the catcher) the only on the field...

Walker Percy Interviews Himself

Walker Percy Interviews Himself

From his piece “Questions They Never Asked Me,” collected in Conversations with Walker Percy. Those who read the whole thing will be rewarded:

Q: What kind of Catholic are you? A. Bad. Q: No. I mean are you liberal or conservative? A: I no longer know what those words mean. Q: Are you a dogmatic...

The Virtues and Vices of N.T. Wright’s After You Believe

The Virtues and Vices of N.T. Wright’s After You Believe

Apparently, the original title of N.T. Wright’s After You Believe was Virtue Reborn, changed for marketing purposes in the US. It’s difficult to understand this change, except perhaps that the American Church tends toward being sanctification-heavy, and purpose-driven, and the promise of a ‘Step 2’ to follow the ‘Step 1’...

Disembodied Truth Part I: Biblical Science, Creationism, Truth in Love, and Dover Beach

Disembodied Truth Part I: Biblical Science, Creationism, Truth in Love, and Dover Beach

I want to think for a second about the ways we tend to process language in different places. At our conference last weekend, Nadia Bolz-Weber spoke eloquently about how a sermon is a local event, preached to a specific people at a specific time in the contexts of the larger...

2015 Tyler Conference Recordings: Tangled Up in Grace

2015 Tyler Conference Recordings: Tangled Up in Grace

A Texas-sized thank-you to everyone who helped put on our conference in Tyler last month, especially the fabulous–and ridiculously ecumenical–steering committee, led by the indefatigable Matt Magill. Huge thanks to all the sponsors as well: B3 Ministries, Bethel Bible, Christ Episcopal, Porch Culture Coffee Roasters, and True Vine Brewery, not...

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Mining Netflix: Frasier and Niles Try to Magically Change Everything

Mining Netflix: Frasier and Niles Try to Magically Change Everything

A bit of a nostalgic, I’ve been finding myself vegging out lately to old episodes of Frasier. (Thank goodness for Netflix!). Perhaps you remember the premise. Always trying hard to be people who are well-recognized in society, Frasier and Niles are a restless duo: members of gentlemen’s clubs, wine-tasting societies, country clubs… the elite of the elite. Naturally this leads to sibling rivalry as they try to outdo each other and fail miserably every time. They are portrayals of all of us living under… well, the law. As with all scenarios in which the self remains front and center, the…

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Imagining Death: New Hope from the Anatomy Lab

Imagining Death: New Hope from the Anatomy Lab

This comes from Mockingfriend Lex Booth. 

A. On your whole brain specimens, cut horizontal sections to dissect the dorsal cerebrum bilaterally down to the level of the corpus callosum using ~1cm thick slices. Please keep the blade wet throughout this lab.

I’m nearing the end of my first year in medical school, and the other day I dissected a brain. For those of you who might be wondering, I’d say the consistency lands somewhere between tofu and Jello, but apparently the formaldehyde makes everything look and feel different. Either way, that stuff smells nasty.

After a semester of hurrying in the anatomy lab…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Exodus Chapter Thirty Two

Hopelessly Devoted: Exodus Chapter Thirty Two

Following the lectionary appendix of the Devotional, this morning’s devotion comes from DZ.

“…as for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” (Exodus 32:1b, NIV)

No sooner has Moses has been called away to Mount Sinai by God than his people begin to “move on.” This happens despite a number of explicit warnings to the contrary, direct from the mouth of God, backed by thunder and lightning and smoking mountains (21:18).

Perhaps the Israelites have grown impatient, perhaps they are dissatisfied, or perhaps they’ve just given up. Whatever the case, they decide…

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Another Week Ends: Love and a Meritocracy, Superhuman Humans, Twitter Psalms, Better Call Caravaggio, Trendy Mindfulness, and a DFW Movie

Another Week Ends: Love and a Meritocracy, Superhuman Humans, Twitter Psalms, Better Call Caravaggio, Trendy Mindfulness, and a DFW Movie

Well, try and stop David Brooks from being on the site twice in one week is what I say. While we’ve all agreed in the office that the cover of his new book isn’t nearly as cool as the one before, his column today is nothing short of a Mockingbird centerfold. It is called “Love and Merit” (!) and deals with the pitfalls of classic, well-intentioned parenting—you know, that strings-attached, perfomance-based, conditional variety of love we all try so hard to avoid doling out.

Brooks nails it on the head. It’s not that we try to be that kind of parent…

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Youth Travel Baseball & Running from the Rules to the Communion Table

Youth Travel Baseball & Running from the Rules to the Communion Table

The Youth Travel Baseball season can be pretty grueling. One Spring seven years ago, I coached our son’s 13u (13 year old and under) travel team. We played an 83 game season! There were tournaments with 3 to 5 games every weekend, and countless games during the week. Somehow our son got all his homework done that season.

It was my first season coaching travel ball, and I was putting together a brand new team. Metro-Atlanta is one of the epicenters for travel baseball, so, with all the competition around, a first year team tends to take its lumps until it…

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Judas’ Charitable Enterprise for the Poor

This passage in Georges Bernanos’ The Diary of a Country Priest comes from our hero’s mentor, the Priest of Torcy, who, if a little harsh, stands as a clear-eyed check on our young cleric’s idealism. This is his monologue on Christ’s love for the poor. But for the priest, and for Bernanos, the love for the poor is not some systematic ethic for justice—it is romance. Referring to the story of the widow’s costly perfume “wasted” on Jesus’ feet, the priest speaks (as Christ) to Judas, against his kind of cautionary, penny-wise methods for selling off a poor woman’s nard.

The poor you will always have with you, but me you have not always with you, answered Our Lord. Which amounts to this: don’t let the hour of mercy strike in vain. You’d do far better to cough up that money you stole, at once, instead of trying to get My apostles worked up over your imaginary financial deals in toilet waters, and your charitable enterprises. Moreover you think you’re flattering My notorious weakness for down-and-outs, but you’ve got hold of the wrong end of the stick. I’m not attached to My paupers like an English old maid to lost cats, or to the poor bulls in the Spanish bull-ring. I love Diary_of_a_Country_Priestpoverty with a deep, reasoned, lucid love—as equal loves equal. I love her as a wife who is faithful and fruitful. If the poor man’s right was derived only from strict necessity, your piddling selfishness would soon reduce him to a bare minimum, paid for by unending gratitude and servility. You’ve been holding forth against this woman to-day who has just bathed My feet with very expensive nard, as though My poor people had no right to best scent…The poor you have always with you, just because there will always be the rich, that is to say there will always be hard and grasping men out for power more than possession. These men exist as much among the poor as among the rich, and the scallywag vomiting up his drink in the gutter is perhaps drunk with the very same dreams as Caesar asleep under his purple canopy. Rich and poor alike, you’d do better to look at yourselves in the mirror of want, for poverty is the image of your own fundamental illusion. Poverty is the emptiness in your hearts and in your hands. It is only because your malice is known to Me that I have placed poverty so high, crowned her and taken her as My bride.

Thesis 10 of The Humility Code (and the Scales of the Universe)

Thesis 10 of The Humility Code (and the Scales of the Universe)

As Bryan alluded to in the most recent weekender, David Brooks’ new book The Road to Character hit shelves last week and has been lighting up our social media feeds, as the NY Times columnist tends to do whenever he gets into less topical territory. While the volume itself makes its way to our mailbox, a couple of reviews and write-ups are too tasty not to mention. Brooks has gone on record to state that, “my book is not a religious book. It uses religious categories … and I do that because I think the public square needs to have…

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Bill Fay Asks Who Is the Sender?

What a supremely pleasant surprise to find out that Bill Fay, one of our all-time favorites, has a new record coming out next week, Who Is The Sender? It’s streaming over at NPR as we speak. The tracklisting alone yields several possible future offertories, e.g., “Bring It On Lord”, “A Frail and Broken One”, and the title track, which Bill explains in the press release this way:

What the piano taught [Fay] was how to connect to one of the great joys of his life. “Music gives,” he says. And he is a grateful receiver. But, it makes him wonder, “Who is the sender?” Fay – who after more than five decades writing songs is finally being appreciated as one of our finest living practitioners of the art – asserts that, for him, songs aren’t actually written but found…

The joy and sadness are indeed deep in this material, which Bill describes as “alternative gospel”. Though it clearly stems from his belief, he doesn’t seek to proselytise or convert anybody, but just hopes to share the concerns he puts into the words and the feelings that he receives from the music: “Goodness, beauty, comfort. If something gives in the world, that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Maybe that’s what music wants to do.”

Disembodied Truth Part I: Biblical Science, Creationism, Truth in Love, and Dover Beach

Disembodied Truth Part I: Biblical Science, Creationism, Truth in Love, and Dover Beach

I want to think for a second about the ways we tend to process language in different places. At our conference last weekend, Nadia Bolz-Weber spoke eloquently about how a sermon is a local event, preached to a specific people at a specific time in the contexts of the larger worship service, the community’s makeup, the identity of the pastor, and so on.

To use just one of these vectors, community makeup, a sermon on the prodigal son parable could differ by audience. To an audience of religious burnouts who have committed the obvious sins over and over, a focus on…

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Jamin Warren’s Games for Non-Gamers: A Magazine List

Jamin Warren’s Games for Non-Gamers: A Magazine List

From our Work and Play Issue, this list comes from Jamin Warren, who blew minds at MbirdNYC15 this past Friday. For those who want more Jamin, his gaming festival Two5Six is taking place in May, and the lineup looks pretty unbelievable. He’s also hinted at an Mbird group rate, which if you go here you can redeem.

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, an esteemed, well-respected cultural historian named Johan Huizinga undertook a very strange project given his post. He wanted to understand the nature of play in all of its forms. What Huizinga found and subsequently argued was that…

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Simultaneously Frazzled and Fragile: Surviving a Culture of Overachievement

Simultaneously Frazzled and Fragile: Surviving a Culture of Overachievement

It’s getting to the point where I’d almost rather not draw attention to articles like Frank Bruni’s “Best, Brightest–and Saddest?”. Not just because I wish their subject matter wasn’t as urgent as it is, or that their claims were more groundless, but because the whole thing has become so excruciatingly obvious. As performancism escalates, so too does its fallout, and the affected demographics only seem to be getting younger. Reading about each new upping of the ante feels like watching a massive collision unfold in slow motion, one where we’ve all had our turn at the wheel.

Bruni’s article focuses on the teenage…

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Write-Up of NYC Conference

As we in C’ville continue to recover from what was a truly wonderful weekend–thank you, Cal St. G’s!–we invite you to check out the write-up of the event that just went up over at Liberate. Very gracious. Even the conference magician gets a nod (as well he should).