New Here?
     
Mbird Tyler 2017 (2/24-25): The Soul of the Gospel

Mbird Tyler 2017 (2/24-25): The Soul of the Gospel

Come join us next month (2/24-25) for our third annual event in downtown Tyler, TX! Our theme this year will be “The Soul of The Gospel”. Paul Zahl and Sarah Condon, along with a host of others, will guide us as we explore the question, “what remains when cultural attachments...
Expectation Hangovers and Twentysomething Nones

Expectation Hangovers and Twentysomething Nones

Back in early 2013, The New Yorker published a piece about twentysomethings by Nathan Heller that had more than a ring of truth to it. He surveys a handful of books that have attempted to distill and address the challenges facing young people today, and what he found might come...

Why Sarah Almost Titled Her Book Prodigal Daughter Who Is the Worst

Why Sarah Almost Titled Her Book Prodigal Daughter Who Is the Worst

Mockingbird’s latest publication, Churchy by Sarah Condon, is flying off the shelves! A hilarious and deeply touching dispatch from the trenches of contemporary life, the book recounts the real life (and grace-saturated) adventures of a wife, mom, and priest as only Sarah can. The introduction alone, excerpted below, features tips on raising churchy kids...

The Top Theology Books of 2016

The Top Theology Books of 2016

Another year and there are many, many more books to read. If that statement feels more like a celebration than an arduous demand, this post is for you. I buy an inordinate amount of books each year, so I’m firmly in the former category. Below are the best theology books...

Searching for Hope in Raising a Mentally Ill Child

Searching for Hope in Raising a Mentally Ill Child

One last peek into the Mental Health Issue, right before we send off the Food & Drink Issue to print (in one short week). This one came from Brian and Debbie Solum, who were also featured in the Mockingcast special during that time, which you can listen to here. (Not to...

Time Precious Time: On Unread Emails and Productivity Panics

Time Precious Time: On Unread Emails and Productivity Panics

Our phones were piled on top of each other on the table near the charger. Not just mine and my wife’s but those of the four friends who had dropped by for dinner. People had been showing each other photos earlier in the evening and someone had suggested we leave...

Latest entries

Another Week Ends: More Hypocrites, More Stories We Tell, More Silence, Less American Dream, And Way Less Millennial Sleeptime (Plus ASK!)

Another Week Ends: More Hypocrites, More Stories We Tell, More Silence, Less American Dream, And Way Less Millennial Sleeptime (Plus ASK!)

Whether you’re wringing your hands about the next four years or pumping your fist, we all need some news that isn’t necessarily inauguration-related. You’ve come to right place!

1. The New York Times ran an op-ed this past Sunday about the real reason we dislike hypocrisy. As a part of their Gray Matter column, the article contends that the real issue we have with hypocrites is not their inability to “practice what they preach,” but instead their belief in their own virtue. As they say it, “We contend that the reason people dislike hypocrites is that their outspoken moralizing falsely signals…

Read More > > >

President Barack Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, greets President-elect Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Two Mockingbirds Talk Two Corinthians

Here’s a timely collaboration from Sarah Condon and Scott Jones, following up on today’s Mockingcast round table.

Last week one of our friends (one of Sarah’s to be specific) mentioned how guilty she felt about not attending a women’s march in protest of the inauguration. Apparently a family member had chastised her for not going. “You can’t go to a freaking march,” Sarah barked back, “you are of no use to your small children if somebody blows you up in the street.”

Everyone seems to be looking for a right response to today’s event. There is a right response for women. A…

Read More > > >

Three Minutes of Pixar Easter Eggs

Because we could all use a mental health break this AM:

p.s. Remember when we released “The Gospel According to Pixar”? Me neither…

(The Tide Decides) When The Hill and Wood Goes

(The Tide Decides) When The Hill and Wood Goes

If the cover of The Hill and Wood’s brilliant new record, When You Go, looks familiar, that’s because lead singer/songwriter Sam Bush and I share not only a long friendship but an affection for the work of Australian artist Jeremy Geddes. Sam somehow got permission for Geddes’s “Ascent”, part of his series of astronaut-slash-deepseadiver-floating-in-space paintings. No dove in this one, you’ll note. Instead, tentacles of fresh, slightly tangled plant-life are breaking through the voyager’s vacuum-sealed armor as he/she/it rises into the light. That’s no coincidence either.

The way Sam tells it, this record wasn’t supposed to happen. After a couple of…

Read More > > >

Autoimmunity and the Heart Curved Inward

Autoimmunity and the Heart Curved Inward

I am sick. That’s pretty much all I can tell you about it with any real confidence. For two years, a harvest of strange and debilitating medical maladies have continued to hurl wrenches into the functioning of my poor and puzzled body (I’ve detailed some of that elegant saga here and here). In my time not writing about being sick on Mockingbird, I slug from one doctor to the next, submit myself to pokes, prods, needles, and indelicate personal questions. Everyone agrees things aren’t right. Yet I am still without a clear diagnosis. There have been rabbit-hole-suspicions by many-a-medical professional,…

Read More > > >

Hope, Realism, and the Protestant Face of Anglicanism

Hope, Realism, and the Protestant Face of Anglicanism

Back in 1998, my father wrote an unfashionable yet characteristically compelling little volume entitled The Protestant Face of Anglicanism. With the big anniversary finally here, it seemed like an ideal time to remind people of its existence (and merit)! Coincidentally, the book shares the title of PZ’s latest project, a tumblr devoted to, well, you guessed it. He’s provided us with a personal introduction to the project below, but first, a couple of zinging paragraphs from the final chapter of the book in question:

The Reformers saw the message of justification as a word of comfort, first and primarily, to the troubled conscience. The conscience, unable…

Read More > > >

“The Only Thing You’ve Got Is What You Can Sell”: Making Peace with the Stories We Tell Ourselves

“The Only Thing You’ve Got Is What You Can Sell”: Making Peace with the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Death of a Salesman is one of my favorite stories, not because it is a piece of great “litracha,” but because it is about a man to whom I can profoundly relate. For anyone who wasn’t subjected to Arthur Miller’s masterpiece in high school, here are the basics: Willy Loman is a salesman harboring great expectations for his son, Biff. When grown-up Biff returns for a visit (“I’m mixed up very bad,” he says), Willy’s delusions about who Biff should be collide with who Biff really is. Willy nevertheless maintains a blind sort of optimism: “Certain men just don’t get started…

Read More > > >

From Oliver Burkeman’s The Antidote

Last week, DZ posted from Oliver Burkeman’s excellent article on time management and the law of unread emails. I just finished up his 2012 book, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, and, boy, good points of connection abound. Trying to get to the bottom of why we have such difficulty doing what we are told to do, or, rather, not doing what we are told not to do, Burkeman uses a study conducted by Daniel Wegner at Harvard’s ‘Mental Control Laboratory.’

When you try not to think of a white bear, you may experience some success in forcing alternative thoughts into your mind. At the same time, though, a metacognitive monitoring process will crank into action, to scan your mind for evidence of whether you are succeeding or failing at the task. And this is where things get perilous, because if you try too hard – or, Wegner’s studies suggest, if you are tired, stressed, depressed, attempting to multi-task, or otherwise suffering from ‘mental load’ – metacognition will frequently go wrong. The monantidote-oliver-burkemanitoring process will start to occupy more than its fair share of limelight on the cognitive stage. It will jump to the forefront of consciousness – and suddenly, all you will be able to think about is white bears, and how badly you’re doing at not thinking about them.

Could it be that … our efforts to feel positive seem so frequently to bring about the opposite result? … When experimental subjects are told of an unhappy event, but then instructed to try not to feel sad about it, they end up feeling worse than people who are informed of the event, but given no instructions about how to feel. In another study, when patients who were suffering from panic disorders listened to relaxation tapes, their hearts beat faster than patients who listened to audiobooks with no explicitly ‘relaxing’ content. Bereaved people who make the most effort to avoid feeling grief, research suggests, take the longest to recover from their loss. Our efforts at mental suppression fail in the sexual arena, too: people instructed not to think about sex exhibit greater arousal, as measured by the electrical conductivity of their skin, than those instructed to suppress such thoughts.

He concludes this chapter, entitled “On Trying Too Hard to be Happy,” with the metaphor of a Chinese finger trap. In the case of striving for our own happiness, he writes, “‘doing the presumably sensible thing is counterproductive.’ Following the negative path to happiness is about doing the other thing – the presumably illogical thing – instead.” In other words, try to climb out of that ditch and before long human nature kicks in, handing down a shovel.

A Series Of Unfortunate Events

On Being an Imposter: “Fake It Till Ya Make It” in a World of Expectations

This one comes to us from pastry-making imposter, Madeline D’Elia. 

The social science concept of imposter syndrome, or imposter phenomenon (IP) as it should properly be called, has been in the spotlight for a few years now. It was the topic of Facebook CEO’s Sheryl Sandberg’s 2011 book Lean In, social psychologist’s Amy Cuddy’s 2012 Ted Talk, and Carl Richards’ piece in the New York Times. We’ve all heard the hackneyed expression, “fake it till you make it,” and IP can best be thought of as the deep seated anxiety that you will always be on the former end versus the…

Read More > > >

Not Another Sports-and-Jesus Analogy

Not Another Sports-and-Jesus Analogy

I was born in Wisconsin, as was my dad, and his dad, which means that we are Green Bay Packers fans. Cheeseheads. We bleed green and gold. Our hearts belong to St. Vincent and Lambeau Field. Our loyalty is defined by our history and our sense of place. 

Unlike my dad and his dad and most of the rest of my family, I don’t understand football. I’ve tried. I went to a Big Ten school and attended all of the home football games, but honestly, that was mostly to see my friends in the marching band. (I’m not making…

Read More > > >

????????????????????????????????????????????????????

The Pastor in the Batter’s Box

Get your elbows up! Watch the ball! Bend your knees! Be a hitter! Keep your elbows down! Choke up on the bat! Jump on that fastball! Wait for your pitch!

I remember standing in that little league batter’s box, with coaches and random parents and teammates all yelling their well-meaning directives to me at the same time. And I wanted to please them all. I wanted with all my 9 year old body to actualize all their shouted instructions simultaneously — even when they contradicted one another. But most of the time, I felt practically paralyzed by their imperatives. The…

Read More > > >

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

However many years a man may live,
   let him enjoy them all.
   But let him remember the days of
      darkness,
   for they will be many.
— Ecclesiastes 11:8

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
— John 1:5

I wake up mornings in the darkness, to get ready for work, or writing if it’s a day off. I let my wife sleep and I close the bedroom door after I press the switch for the hall light. I turn on all the lights in the kitchen, even the under-cabinet fixtures that have separate switches because it’s…

Read More > > >