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Jesus Comes Aboard the Ship of Fools: A Sermon for Charlottesville

Jesus Comes Aboard the Ship of Fools: A Sermon for Charlottesville

The following incredibly powerful and comforting sermon was delivered yesterday by Paul Walker, Rector at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville (next door to the rallies from this past weekend).

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the...

Another Week Ends (in Charlottesville)

Another Week Ends (in Charlottesville)

I’ll be honest with you. It would’ve been nice to return from sabbatical some other week.

As you might imagine, a front row seat gives the viewer a different perspective. But you’d think it would loosen the tongue, not tie it up. Why haven’t I been able to write about what...

Architects, Madmen and Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death

Architects, Madmen and Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death

Freud, Kierkegaard, and the drug lord Heisenberg…A free peek into the Love & Death Issue, which people continue to tell us is their favorite issue thus far. Here is Ethan’s piece on the classic, Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death. If you subscribe to the magazine, and add the code...

When You Can't Get the S-Town Off of You

When You Can’t Get the S-Town Off of You

There are these golden moments in interviews where everything before and after becomes fuzzy, and the clarity of what is happening between those two people gets thrust into sharp contrast, like an audio pull-quote. Recently I had just that experience.

 

I felt an urge to relisten to S-Town just a few...

Seeking Freedom from Dieting and Body Shame: Part Three

Seeking Freedom from Dieting and Body Shame: Part Three

One of the comments from this recent article in the New York Times Magazine on diet culture in America says:

As humans I think we are all seeking something more. We all want to be better, and to be different. Some days we love ourselves. Some days we don’t. This Feature...

The Power of the Personal Essay

The Power of the Personal Essay

In her piece for newyorker.com, “The Personal-Essay Boom is Over,” Jia Tolentino laments the death of a genre of writing that was, for a spell, ubiquitous. “A genre that partially defined the last decade of the Internet has essentially disappeared,” she writes. The Toast, Hairpin, Gawker, and other sites showcasing...

Now Available: The Love & Death Issue!

Now Available: The Love & Death Issue!

Ladies and gentlemen, lovers and leavers, killers and killed, the time has arrived: The Love & Death Issue is at the printers and death is lovelier than ever. You are going to love it to death! If you want to order a copy for yourself and all the people you love, go...
Update: Prices Reduced!

Update: Prices Reduced!

We're overjoyed to announce that, over Reformation Weekend (Oct 27-28), we'll be celebrating in Washington, DC, with a 24-hour mini-conference. Hosted by our friends at All Saints Chevy Chase, we would love for you to join us. Talks will be (of course) Reformation-themed, and as always, we'll...

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A Reminder from Fleming Rutledge

From page 345 of The Crucifixion:

“…distinctions between the “innocent” and the “guilty,” while provisionally necessary in this fallen world, lose their power when seen from the perspective of the end-time. Categories of more and less guilt, and declarations of amnesty, so inadequate in this age of Sin and Death, become meaningless in the light of God’s new day as we come to understand that in the sight of the Lord “there is not one righteous” (Ps. 14:3; Rom. 3:10). This is the heart of biblical understanding concerning the entire human race. In the light of what was permitted to be done to the Son of God by the machinations, duplicity, and collaboration of all the “best people,” we come to see ourselves in bondage to forces far stronger than we are.”

The Alt-Right Are Zombies. Stay with Me.

The Alt-Right Are Zombies. Stay with Me.

Think about it. They are wandering the streets. They want to destroy those who are not like them. They are screaming for blood. And they are obviously terrifying.

Christians have put out responses all over the map on this one. Tina Fey (a churchgoing Lutheran) has suggested we yell our anger into sheet cakes. Many of my colleagues have taken to the streets to show great love in the face of hate. Also, word on the street is that Beth Moore is pissed at these guys, too.

Believers are rightly upset. Racism is undeniably a sin. And apparently the alt-right missed the…

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Hopelessly Devoted: John Chapter Five Verses Twenty-Two Through Twenty-Seven

Hopelessly Devoted: John Chapter Five Verses Twenty-Two Through Twenty-Seven

This morning’s devotion was written by John Zahl. 

The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life. “Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice…

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Another Week Ends (in Charlottesville)

Another Week Ends (in Charlottesville)

I’ll be honest with you. It would’ve been nice to return from sabbatical some other week.

As you might imagine, a front row seat gives the viewer a different perspective. But you’d think it would loosen the tongue, not tie it up. Why haven’t I been able to write about what took place here last weekend?

Well, for starters, I am (we are) still very much dealing with the local fallout. I’m referring to the incredibly kind teaching aide at my son’s elementary school who was jumped and beaten because of his skin color, and wondering if he’s going to be able…

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A Message from Christ Church in Charlottesville

A Message from Christ Church in Charlottesville

As a follow-up to his recent sermon, here is the message Rector Paul Walker sent to his parishioners at Christ Church in Charlottesville—relevant for all of us left shocked and dismayed by the events of last Saturday.

Dear Friends,

Evil is not a word to be used lightly. But it is a word that is squarely within the canons of Christian scripture, theology, and tradition. If you have participated in one of the many baptisms at Christ Church, you will have heard  the minister ask the following question to the parents and godparents of the baptismal candidate. “Do you renounce the evil…

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The Janus Face of Lofty Humanism (According to Charles Taylor)

Taken from page 687 of A Secular Age:

In replacing the low and demeaning picture of human beings as depraved, inveterate sinners, in articulating the potential of human beings for goodness and greatness, humanism has not only given us the courage to act for reform, but also explains why this philanthropic action is so immensely worthwhile. The higher the human potential, the greater the enterprise of realizing it, and the more the carriers of this potential are worthy of our help in achieving it.

But philanthropy and solidarity driven by a lofty humanism, just as that which was driven often by high religious ideals, has a Janus face. On one side, in the abstract, one is inspired to act. But on the other, faced with the immense disappointments of actual human performance, with the myriad ways in which real, concrete human beings fall short of, ignore, parody and betray this magnificent potential, one cannot but experience a growing sense of anger and futility. Are these people really worthy objects of all these efforts? Perhaps in face of all this stupid recalcitrance, it would not be a betrayal of human worth, or one’s self-worth, if one abandoned them. Or perhaps the best that can be done for them is to force them to shape up.

Before the reality of human shortcomings, philanthropy–the love of the human–can gradually come to be invested with contempt, hatred, aggression. The action is broken off, or worse, continues, but informed now with these new feelings, and becomes progressively more coercive and inhumane…

The tragic irony is that the higher the sense of potential, the more grievously real people fall short, and the more severe the turn-around will be which is inspired by the disappointment. A lofty humanism posits high standards of self-worth, and a magnificent goal to strive towards. It inspires enterprises of great moment. But by this very token it encourages force, despotism, tutelage, ultimately contempt, and a certain ruthlessness in shaping refractory human material. Oddly enough, the same horrors which Enlightenment critique picked up in societies and institutions dominated by religion.

…Wherever action for high ideals is not tempered, controlled, ultimately engulfed in an unconditional love of the beneficiaries, this ugly dialectic risks repeating itself.

Architects, Madmen and Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death

Architects, Madmen and Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death

Freud, Kierkegaard, and the drug lord Heisenberg…A free peek into the Love & Death Issue, which people continue to tell us is their favorite issue thus far. Here is Ethan’s piece on the classic, Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death. If you subscribe to the magazine, and add the code JESSEPINKMAN in the notes section of your order, we’ll send a free copy to a friend of your choosing.

And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone…

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"Bring Your Baby to Hospice Day," by Sarah Condon

“Bring Your Baby to Hospice Day,” by Sarah Condon

The following is an excerpt from one of Mockingbird’s best-selling books, Churchy: The Real Life Adventures of a Wife, Mom, and Priest, by Sarah Condon. If you haven’t bought your copy yet…what are you waiting for?! Now available on Kindle and in paperback.

Parents today are raising a bunch of ice monsters. At least, that’s what the endless stream of articles explaining how to “teach” compassion seems to suggest. We are told to talk to our kids at eye level or to let them speak at great length about their feelings. We worry that we must train them to be emotionally…

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(Belated) August Playlist

First order of post-sabbatical business–other than resisting the (alarmingly strong) temptation to fend off the full range of human emotions re: Saturday–is to thank our amazing team for all their hard work these past three months. The Love and Death issue turned out so top-notch that I’m not sure whether I should be proud or embarrassed… Same with The Very Persistent Pirate! Sheesh. (That book is now available on Amazon, btw – those who’ve experienced its charms are warmly invited to contribute a review over there, as it aids the book’s visibility). If it’s a mercy to be reminded of one’s dispensability, I’ve been mightily blessed.

That said, when it comes to crafting monthly playlists, my colleagues may still have something to learn. To wit:

P.S. Check out the reduced prices for the DC Conference! (Yours truly could not be more pumped).

The Power of the Personal Essay

The Power of the Personal Essay

In her piece for newyorker.com, “The Personal-Essay Boom is Over,” Jia Tolentino laments the death of a genre of writing that was, for a spell, ubiquitous. “A genre that partially defined the last decade of the Internet has essentially disappeared,” she writes. The Toast, Hairpin, Gawker, and other sites showcasing the noble attempts of young writers to mine their experiences and explore what they had to say have since disbanded or stopped receiving first-person pitches. The audience has shrunk for these essays, and Tolentino is sad to see them go.

The online personal essay has its faults. The form’s popularity contributed…

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Malfunctioning Lovers (and Christ in a Ciabatta Roll)

A scathing narrator lowers her anthropology in this compelling passage from White Teeth by Zadie Smith:

What was it about this unlovable century that convinced us we were, despite everything, eminently lovable as a people, as a species? What made us think that anyone who fails to love us is damaged, lacking, malfunctioning in some way? And particularly if they replace us with a god, or a weeping madonna, or the face of Christ in a ciabatta roll—then we call them crazy. Deluded. Regressive. We are so convinced of the goodness of ourselves, and the goodness of our love, we cannot bear to believe that there might be something more worthy of love than us, more worthy of worship. Greetings cards routinely tell us everybody deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time.

Millat didn’t love Irie, and Irie was sure there must be somebody she could blame for that.

Seeking Freedom from Dieting and Body Shame: Part Three

Seeking Freedom from Dieting and Body Shame: Part Three

One of the comments from this recent article in the New York Times Magazine on diet culture in America says:

As humans I think we are all seeking something more. We all want to be better, and to be different. Some days we love ourselves. Some days we don’t. This Feature went way beyond weight for me, it spoke about the common constant striving of humanity and about shared desires and secrets….of our anxieties, our struggles, our sadness, and our love and hopes.

There is so much awareness in the words above. We all spend so much time and energy to be…

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