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Inside The Forgiveness Issue (Opener and Table of Contents)

Inside The Forgiveness Issue (Opener and Table of Contents)

As Father’s Day rolls around, so does our Forgiveness Issue (purely coincidental). Here’s a teaser to the Fifth Issue of The Mockingbird–the Opener as well as the Table of Contents. Subscriptions and orders can be placed here.

A Cop Out in the Woods

It turns out writing about forgiveness is hard. Maybe...

The Films of 2015 (So Far)

The Films of 2015 (So Far)

Here’s part one of a cinematic round up from Mbirder Josh Encinias. Part two to be published at the end of December.

I have a confession to make: I see a lot of movies. Mostly older films in New York City’s repertory theaters, but I see my share of new ones....

2015 Kanuga Renewal Conference: Rest

2015 Kanuga Renewal Conference: Rest

An enormous thanks to all those who make last week’s Renewal Conference at Kanuga happen. It was such a joy and privilege to be asked to provide the content, and spend a week with such a wonderful group of people (in such a beautiful place). Best of all, the time...

Meet The New Boss (Same As The Old Boss): Birthday Party Panic and The New Puritanism

Meet The New Boss (Same As The Old Boss): Birthday Party Panic and The New Puritanism

Talk about a lob over the plate. The New Republic posted a piece last week by Mark Oppenheimer entitled “The New Puritans: When Did Liberals Become So Uptight?” in which the NY Times columnist laments the rise of progressive piety–and the attendant anxiety–that one finds in blue-state circles these days....

Gospel According to Pixar: Inside Out

Gospel According to Pixar: Inside Out

The reviews for Pixar’s latest, Inside Out, are not just hype. I went to see the movie on Tuesday night, and I’m still processing different parts of it, which to me is always the sign of a goodie. It’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from Pixar: appealing to all...

Engineering Worship and Liturgies of Control

Engineering Worship and Liturgies of Control

As someone who, personally, worships at a traditionally liturgical church, I’m happy to see a lot more Protestant denominations, many traditionally non-liturgical, starting to think about “liturgy.” Because liturgical worship has, for me, circumvented a great deal of my attempt to manage my own worship experience. Liturgy is something difficult...

Wheels of Worry, Everyday Trauma, and the First Day of School

Wheels of Worry, Everyday Trauma, and the First Day of School

“Trauma is not just the result of major disasters. It does not happen to only some people. An undercurrent of trauma runs through ordinary life, shot through as it is with the poignancy of impermanence. I like to say that if we are not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, we...

The “Me” Gospel: Killers and Chillers in the Workplace

The “Me” Gospel: Killers and Chillers in the Workplace

The internet is still brimming with commentary on what “the good life” really means, a question which, in itself, may prove the point of The NY Times‘ recent must-read op-ed, “The Gospel According to ‘Me'”. In it Jamieson Webster and Simon Critchley, a psychoanalyst and a philosophy professor talk shop...

Christian Battle Lines and the Narcissism of Small Differences

Christian Battle Lines and the Narcissism of Small Differences

I became a Christian during summer camp at age eleven, and few experiences since then can compare to the bliss of that first night and the month or so following it. I still remember, though distantly, the thrill of morning devotionals and a general sense of wonder at the strange,...

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Vast Construction Work in O’Connor’s Wise Blood

A quick passage from Flannery’s first novel, Wise Blood, that comes just after protagonist Hazel Motes has arrived in Taulkinham (“Town of the Little Cross”). The following doubles as both a dark look at how consumerism has limited our vision and a metaphor for O’Connor’s fiction falling on unreceptive ears:

His second night in Taulkinham, Hazel Motes walked along down town close to the store fronts but not looking in them. The black sky was underpinned with long silver streaks that looked like scaffolding and depth on depth behind it were thousands of stars that all seemed to be moving very slowly as if they were about some vast construction work that involved the whole universe and would take all time to complete. No one was paying attention to the sky. The stores in Taulkinham stayed open on Thursday nights so that people could have an extra opportunity to see what was for sale.

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Motes goes on to found the “Church Without Christ” and preaches from atop the hood of his car before blinding himself with lime and ending up dead in a ditch (can you say BLEAK!?). Yet despite his efforts to physically blind himself, he still has the tools to see Christ. He desires after the truth that O’Connor’s fiction tries to present. But he’s not quite there yet. Fortunately, the beauty of the prose – the description of the sky as God’s “vast construction work” – is also an encouraging reminder of His presence in and around us.

 

Penny & Sparrow on Fleeing a Lover

Penny & Sparrow on Fleeing a Lover

There is, in fact, no BuzzFeed quiz for “Which Son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son Are You?”—and if there were, I’m not sure people would take it.

As the story goes, a decently well-off man has two not-that-decent sons. The younger, wild and fugitive, asks his father for an advance on his inheritance. (I have never been a first-century householder or the offspring of one, but have heard this would effectively send the message “You’re dead to me” from son to father.) The father (again, nothing like me, because I would have laughed at this kid or sent him to…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Luke Chapter Fifteen Verses Seventeen through Twenty Four

Hopelessly Devoted: Luke Chapter Fifteen Verses Seventeen through Twenty Four

This morning’s devotion comes from Jonathan Adams:

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and…

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Another Week Ends: Conditional Epidemics, Lasting Love Songs, Contextless Forgiveness, Enforced Happiness, Atheist Architecture and John Adams’ Lament

Another Week Ends: Conditional Epidemics, Lasting Love Songs, Contextless Forgiveness, Enforced Happiness, Atheist Architecture and John Adams’ Lament

1. Reporting from the Aspen Festival of Ideas, Connor Friedersdorf briefs us on “How Parents Make High-Achieving Kids Miserable” via a discussion that took place earlier this week between William Deresiewicz and David Brooks on the state/purpose of higher education. The first twelve minutes find Deresiewicz recounting the background of his new book, but once Brooks hits the stage (13 minute mark or so), it really heats up. For instance:

“I see my students burdened by this epidemic of conditional love, where their parents have honed them, and if they decide not to take the job they want, or the major…

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England's Jo Potter (L) consoles teammate Laura Bassett after she scored an own-goal in the last minutes of the game giving Japan the win in their semifinal match at the FIFA Women's World Cup at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Canada on July 1, 2015.   AFP PHOTO/GEOFF ROBINS        (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

The Upside-Down Notion of an “Absolute Hero”

This week’s sports post comes from Mockingbird contributor Jonathan Adams:

Like (I’m sure) many of us, these past few weeks I’ve been dutifully doing something that I literally never do – watching women’s soccer on TV. I’ve been watching the US matches in the World Cup. I don’t claim to know much about soccer, but I concluded after watching the US in their semi-final match against Germany that (to my very untrained eye) the US team is a “team”. They communicate well and seem to have each others’ backs. They’re super fun to watch. And yes, I may have a pink…

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Hidden Holiness: The Experience of Sanctification? – Will McDavid

Carrying on with the videos from our Spring Conferences, here’s Will’s expert exploration of air travel, spiritual and otherwise:

Hidden Holiness: The Experience of Sanctification? – Will McDavid from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Can’t pass up the opportunity to laud our favorite man-from-Macon, who just finished his final week as full-time staff with Mockingbird after three and a half absurdly fruitful years. Will is heading to law school this Fall–an irony not lost on him, believe me–but thankfully staying close and sticking in Charlottesville. So while he’ll still pop up on here from time to time, do say a prayer for the guy, and if you feel inspired, drop a comment below (or shoot him well wishes at mcdavid.will@gmail.com). It’s been such a privilege and joy to have him on the team.

BONUS QUESTION: What’s your favorite McDavid opus? I have too many to list here. But certainly Christian Battle Lines, God Redeems Our Anthropomorphism, Disgruntled Millennials, the Metropolitan review, the NT Wright takedown, Goodhart’s Law, and of course, A Great Prince Died So a Hedge Knight Might Live would make the cut. The Preamar post still gives me a chuckle too – you know, that time Mockingbird became the international connection point for fans of a Brazilian TV show and its creator(s).

The Films of 2015 (So Far)

The Films of 2015 (So Far)

Here’s part one of a cinematic round up from Mbirder Josh Encinias. Part two to be published at the end of December.

I have a confession to make: I see a lot of movies. Mostly older films in New York City’s repertory theaters, but I see my share of new ones. MoviePass makes it possible to feed my growing habit. But it wasn’t always this way. In the mid-2000’s, I quit watching films because I decided an enlightened spirituality shouldn’t be involved with contrivances like film. I wanted the reel deal; life unfiltered.

The veneer of a life unfiltered is purity, or…

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On the Fragile Souls of Imperial Sycophants

Another one from Ted Peters’ Sin Boldly!:

51lU3StHrKL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Measurements, milestones, merits, awards, and orthodoxies rule over our psyches like Caligula ruled Rome. Like sycophants in the emperor’s royal court, we create a fictional public image by bowing and fawning before the ambient opinions of what is acceptable, respectable, admirable, good, just, and true. And in our rare moments of self-bolstering, we assure ourselves that we stand for eternal justice, the unassailable good, and what is absolutely right–what Luther refers to as “the Law.” In doing so, the fragile soul becomes temporarily hidden beneath self-justifying bravado. Nevertheless, fragility is ever present, sapping our soul of honesty, integrity, and authentic caring. To make matters worse, Christian sermonizers–preachers whom Cathleen Falsani calls “spiritual bullies”–man their pulpits like a captain on the bridge; they manipulate our already innate anxieties and turn timidity into terror. The perpetual fear of eternal damnation turns a fragile soul into a petrified self. We fragile ones go through the motions of life, but we don’t really live it.

Romans 8:33b, “God is the one who justifies,” should be heard by us as good news, as grace, as gospel. The gospel is aimed at liberating our selves from fragility and our souls from the endless unrolling of [spiritual] duct tape.” (pgs. 16-17)

Chris Farley and the Tragedy of Splitting

I just watched the trailer for the upcoming Chris Farley documentary and nearly bawled on my desk. His work was a huge part of my childhood and, for my money, there have never been better SNL skits than Matt Foley or funnier movies than Tommy Boy. What a tragic loss.

The trailer revealed that this poor man fell victim to what some have called “splitting”: the living of two lives, ever more separated – one an idealized, “super” version of self and the other a dark brew of one’s less admirable traits (what Paul Zahl refers to as “the boys in the basement”). Chris Farley always had to be “Chris Farley.” He couldn’t find a space to let down, tell the truth, not be funny,  and even as the expectations on his better self ramped up, the appetites of his shadow self increased in step, and finally claimed him. No one can be “on” all the time.

Chris was killed by the law of fame, and not God’s Law, but the lesson still holds. As long as we attempt to find approval and peace by living up to some unattainable ideal, we will inevitably split. The hope of the Gospel is that our darker self will be brought into the light, where it can be forgiven, loved, embraced, and integrated. Only grace moves us towards wholeness, a miracle which Christopher Crosby Farley never experienced.

July Playlist

New York Tenements and the Green, Green Grass of Home

New York Tenements and the Green, Green Grass of Home

As a young person in New York City, one of my favorite spots was the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. Through touring actual old tenement apartments, the museum tells the difficult and often tragic story of 19th century immigrants to Manhattan.

I loved it because it felt like they were telling my story. As strange as it may sound, when we moved to the Big Apple I felt as though I had landed on another planet. At the time I was a 24 year old befuddled Mississippian who cried (often) standing in front of Subway maps.

Of course, my problems…

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2015 Kanuga Renewal Conference: Rest

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An enormous thanks to all those who make last week’s Renewal Conference at Kanuga happen. It was such a joy and privilege to be asked to provide the content, and spend a week with such a wonderful group of people (in such a beautiful place). Best of all, the time itself proved genuinely restful for all involved. The recordings of the main sessions are now up on The Mockingpulpit as well as the Recordings page, but for those who would rather stream or download directly from here, you’re in luck.

1. Rest for the Restless – David Zahl

2. Christian Obstacles to Rest – Jacob Smith

3. Rest in the Bible, part 1 – Jady Koch

4. Rest in the Bible, part 2 – Jady Koch

5. How Rest Is Applied – Jacob Smith

6. The Life of Rest – David Zahl

7. Closing Question and Answer Session – DZ, JS & JDK