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Waiting At the Altar (No Longer!): Bob Dylan's Gospel Years

Waiting At the Altar (No Longer!): Bob Dylan’s Gospel Years

As promised, a review of the long-awaited Trouble No More boxed set documenting Bob Dylan’s gospel years, courtesy of resident Dylanologist Ken Wilson, who’ll be seeing his 55th (!) show on Friday.

In a career full of surprises, the most amazing is still the “born again” period. Sure Bob Dylan...

Announcing a Mockingbird Take on Hamilton!

Announcing a Mockingbird Take on Hamilton!

We are excited to announce an ebook titled Never Satisfied Until Satisfied in Thee: Finding Grace in Hamilton—which drops on November 1!

America needed Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical as 2016 left us with unprecedented division and cynicism about our national values. Fortunately, Hamilton modeled grace to America and its...

Secret Demodogs and (Spiritual) Black Holes: Stranger Things 2 Loses Its Innocence

Secret Demodogs and (Spiritual) Black Holes: Stranger Things 2 Loses Its Innocence

Spoilers galore in the following look at the latest season of the Netflix series.

A Christian take on the new season of Stranger Things begins and ends with Eleven and her relationship to Hopper. That relationship—its ups, its downs, and its upside downs—becomes the beating heart of this season.

When we last...

Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad (and Him, Too)

Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad (and Him, Too)

You can’t time this stuff. At least, if you did, it wouldn’t pack half the punch.

I’m referring to the release of The Rentals’ song “Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad” a few short weeks before Rolling Stone published a full-length profile of the man in question. We’ll take them one...

Four Points About Martin Luther on 31 October 2017

Four Points About Martin Luther on 31 October 2017

Prof. Simeon Zahl weighs in:

I’ve spent so much of the past ten years reading, thinking with, and writing about Martin Luther’s theology, and teaching his thought at three universities. But I confess at this point I have very little interest in the idea of Luther, or in hagiography, or in...

2017 DC Conference Recordings

2017 DC Conference Recordings

Thank you again to everyone who helped put on the “500 Years of Grace” event two weeks ago in DC, especially our friends at All Saints Chevy Chase! What a truly special time it was.

The audio from the event is now available on The Mockingcast feed and our Recordings page....

Sex Is Bigger Than You and Me (and Everyone We Know)

Sex Is Bigger Than You and Me (and Everyone We Know)

Two remarkable articles about sex–you know, coitus–have come across my screen in the past couple weeks, both of them refreshingly offbeat. The first comes from Alain De Botton, he of Religion for Atheists fame and the new How to Think More About Sex. It appeared in The Wall Street Journal...

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Day Two of AARSBL

Day Two of AARSBL

To read the round-up of day one, click here.

Today was my Luther Day. Ever since the schedule was released I had the “Luther and Justification” section circled on my calendar. This enthusiasm derives not so much because it’s Luther but because it was being conducted by Bible scholars. For the longest time, Luther has been an easy target for Pauline students. Having “Lutheran spectacles” or a “Reformational bias” is an insult of the highest degree. For many it seems as though Luther’s reading of Paul was the original sin of Pauline scholarship—the place it all went so terribly wrong….

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PZ's Podcast: Motivate!

PZ’s Podcast: Motivate!

EPISODE 238

This is a short talk on motivation and love. What motivates a person to do something — to REALLY do something. As opposed to remaining endlessly exhausted and trapped, within a cycle of inner conflict and desuetude.

As usual in PZ’s Podcast, love is the answer. But how? And why? Karl Barth’s decisive mistake is exposed — without animus. Parishioners’ failed self-knowledge, let alone my own failed self-knowledge, is exposed — by experience.

You have to start with experience. It doesn’t mean you have to end there. But you have to start with your own experience.

Simeon Zahl never tires of saying…

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Kids, Camels, Needles & the Righteousness of the Law

Kids, Camels, Needles & the Righteousness of the Law

This one comes to us from Brad J. Gray.

Something my dad has said many times before, and something that I don’t think I’ll forget anytime soon, is that the keys to good biblical interpretation happen to also be the same 3 basic rules in real estate: (1) Location, (2) Location, and (3) Location. Or to put this in hermeneutical terms, we might say, Context, Context, and Context!

Context is king when it comes to reading, studying, and applying the Bible. (My dad should know a thing or two about this, as he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the same subject.) This is…

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THE Game

THE Game

Football is in High Season right now. It’s become enmeshed in headlines: kneeling, concussions, NFL attendance are all loudly flamed. But it’s also the time of championships, pro playoff debates and season-ending “rivalry games.”

I find an odd connection with the sport of football and faith in religion. Quite personally, for me, there is an intimate connection to the sport. I played, coached, and one son played all the way through college. The scale and hype of Big Time Football leaves me cold. But similarly, for this Cradle Episcopalian “Churchman,” church and churchiness leaves me cold, too.

However, the love I feel…

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Day One of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature (AARSBL)

Day One of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature (AARSBL)

For anyone studying the Bible, theology, or religion, the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature (AARSBL) is the go-to conference to learn about the latest and greatest in current research. Several thousand scholars from all around the world descend upon an unsuspecting city’s conference center and hotels. This year Boston was the site. The AARSBL is the one time that usually introverted academics become social: seeing old friends and renewing professional acquaintances. Paper topics given are as wide as you can imagine, ranging from studies of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas to the controversy over the Luther…

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Another Week Ends: Grindelwald and Kierkegaard, Homer and the Other, Faith and Fear, Athletica and Aging

Another Week Ends: Grindelwald and Kierkegaard, Homer and the Other, Faith and Fear, Athletica and Aging

1. The National Review published a take on the Roy Moore scandal that focuses less on the man’s misdeeds and more on the guiding theology that Moore’s Christianity espouses. David French’s article suggests there are two competing temptations within the Church today, one of which is total cultural assimilation (“the Church becomes the world, and the logic for its distinct existence disappears”) and the other being its opposite: the sectoring off of Christendom into a virtue haven for the righteous. This, French argues, is the Christianity of Roy Moore, “a form of hyper-legalism as a firewall to protect your family…

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Recommended Music: "Songs for Christmas Time" by Lowland Hum

Recommended Music: “Songs for Christmas Time” by Lowland Hum

Last Christmas my wife and I had a revelation that it seems everyone has, sooner or later. We actually started listening to Christmas music. “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire?!” We’re millennials. We barely know how to start a fire, much less roast chestnuts on an open one. Forget keeping Christ in Christmas; it sometimes seems like Christmas isn’t even in Christmas. And yet here I am this year, eagerly watching as city workers string up cedar garlands downtown, checking my weather app for LED snowflakes, caught up in the internal tug-of-war that this season always brings: the longing for,…

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Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad (and Him, Too)

Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad (and Him, Too)

You can’t time this stuff. At least, if you did, it wouldn’t pack half the punch.

I’m referring to the release of The Rentals’ song “Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad” a few short weeks before Rolling Stone published a full-length profile of the man in question. We’ll take them one at a time.

The Rentals, which at this point is really just the moniker for Matt Sharp (of early Weezer fame), haven’t released a record since 2014’s excellent Lost in Alphaville. Then, on October 5th, “Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad” appeared out of nowhere, a seven minute gospel pop opus…

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From The New Yorker

Suitcases of Evil

Suitcases of Evil

Editor’s note: the following post touches on disturbing topics such as child abuse and should be read with discretion. It is a follow-up to Richard’s recent piece, “Praying Twice.”

Grace on a Gravel Road

Grace on a Gravel Road

By Andrew Taylor-Troutman.

One lazy afternoon when the light oozed in the air like honey, this old farmer told me that the school bus would come all the way down the gravel road to the driveway of the manse. He had stopped by to drop off Tommy Toe tomatoes from his wife’s garden. My wife and I had no children at the time. Six years later, our firstborn is getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall. But first we are moving away. I am about to begin a new call to another church.

***

The church I have served is…

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The Possibility of (Actual) Dialogue Between Atheists and Christians

The Possibility of (Actual) Dialogue Between Atheists and Christians

Hooray! The much-esteemed Francis Spufford has a new book out this month, a collection of essays entitled True Stories & Other Essays. Highly recommended for anyone interested in language and literature, to say nothing of thoughtful Christianity (or, curiously enough, the Arctic!). The earliest piece in the “Sacred” section takes the form of an open letter to atheists–not surprisingly perhaps, given that it was published in 2012, at the height of the New Atheist hubbub. The whole thing overflows with characteristic wit and eloquence, and despite the title, aims to move beyond categories of antagonism. Its stirring final paragraphs are…

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