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2015 NYC Conference Recordings: Clean Slate – Absolution in Real Life

2015 NYC Conference Recordings: Clean Slate – Absolution in Real Life

An incredibly heartfelt thank-you to everyone who helped put on this year’s conference in NYC, especially our friends at Calvary St. George’s. We couldn’t be more grateful for how it all went. We are excited to announce that next year’s NY Conference will take place April 14-16, 2016!

Once again we...

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...

Internet Shame and the Price of a Reputation

Internet Shame and the Price of a Reputation

If you already have a list of podcasts you pretend to listen to, put Reply All at the top. It’s a show I had avoided for a while because it’s exclusively “a show about the internet,” a medium I surrender so much of my time to already. But I quickly...

Low Anthropology Is My Love Language

Low Anthropology Is My Love Language

Often, when I try to explain what Mockingbird is I am faced with the daunting task of articulating a “low anthropology”. That is, an unflattering view of humanity. People accuse me of being negative or of losing sight of the fact that human beings are “mostly good.” So I pause...

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...

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...

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...

Take Me to Church

Take Me to Church

I wore jeans on Easter Sunday.

I don’t remember the last time I missed church on Easter—or if there ever even has been a time. The Lord’s triumphant return from the grave, spring’s return to our calendars, and lapsed parishioners’ return to pews amalgamate into an unmissable Super-Bowl-Sunday among the observant....

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The Crucial Eccentricity of the Christian Faith (According to Frederick Buechner)

Thanks to Key Life for bringing this wonderful, Mr. Rogers-esque clip to our attention. Great final line:

No Human Voice: A Review of Doug Burr’s Pale White Dove

No Human Voice: A Review of Doug Burr’s Pale White Dove

This comes to us from Matt Redmond:

And I stepped out slowly between that sordid throng
Comin’ not a word – soundin’ like a song
While it just kept goin’, I just walked on
A song with no human voice

I don’t know where Doug Burr gets his songs from. But I would assume they come from a similar place as Flannery O’Connor’s stories. You expect Hazel Motes or The Misfit to show up any moment.

The first song I ever heard from Burr came out of nowhere. After stumbling onto a website looking for something else, I found myself listening to…

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Enemies – Wendell Berry

In the midst of all the research for the upcoming Forgiveness Issue, this beauty surfaced.

twelve_angry_men

 

If you are not to become a monster,
you must care what they think.
If you care what they think,

how will you not hate them,
and so become a monster
of the opposite kind? From where then

is love to come—love for your enemy
that is the way of liberty?
From forgiveness. Forgiven, they go

free of you, and you of them;
they are to you as sunlight
on a green branch. You must not

think of them again, except
as monsters like yourself,
pitiable because unforgiving.

The Legalism of Swimsuit Season

The Legalism of Swimsuit Season

For 6 months of my life I looked really great in a swimsuit. I was 18, eating mostly fat free jello and running like there was a fat monster chasing me. After that season of inexplicable joy, I began to loathe wearing swimsuits as much as the next American woman.

Two things have happened to change my disdain for the pool. First, we moved to Texas where swimsuits are the yoga pants of suburbia. Which is to say, everyone wears them. And then I had a daughter and kept reading pieces that told me that the way to keep her from being…

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Now Available! Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints)

Mockingbird couldn’t be more excited to announce a new book, Law and Gospel. A collaboration between Will McDavid, Ethan Richardson, and David Zahl, this theology for sinners (and saints) is a short primer on a subject near and dear to us, the distinction between–you guessed it–Law and Gospel. From the back cover:

Mbird LAW AND GOSPEL Cover options4There’s a big difference between judgment and love, obligation and freedom, a wage and a gift. The difference characterizes an extraordinary amount of our day-to-day experience, often dividing fear from hope, and death from life. At the heart of Christianity lies a similar and related dynamic: between the Law and the Gospel. Far from being a reductive or antiquated distinction, understanding where one ends and the other begins allows a person to see both the Bible and themselves – indeed, the whole world! – in a fresh and enlivening way. Written with the non-theologian in mind, this short volume unpacks the good news of God’s grace with practicality, humor, and a whole lot of heart.

We open the book by turning a critical eye on American optimism, then look at the roles of the Law – command, measure, accusation, means of control, and death – then break for a short autobiographical imaginative reflection on baseball failure. The Gospel section includes a look at Christ as Good News, as a Person, and as a divine Gift. From there we talk about possible ‘fruits’ of the Gospel, and close on the Gospel as objective comfort.

Bonuses, in the appendices, include a short guide to distinguishing between Law and Gospel, especially from the pulpit; a spirited defense against charges of antinomianism; and a look at how demands and forgiveness in human relationships relate to God’s Law and Gospel, respectively.

We mean for the book to serve as an introduction to Mockingbird and/or Martin Luther’s Law/Gospel paradigm for new readers, to let people know “Where We’re Calling From” (Carver). For old readers, it’s a more precise, clear, and frankly better-written version of ideas we haven’t explicitly developed on the site for a few years. For pastors and churches, it can work as a thematic handbook to Law and Gospel. For laypeople, it’s an extremely accessible entry point into a rich theological tradition. And at 91 pages, its burden errs on the light side.

Early reviews have been great, and we mean the book to serve as a primer, a gift, or fresh material for Sunday School. To that end, you can pick it up on Amazon for $11, or email us for bulk-order discounts (10+ copies = $7/per). Finally, we have a “conference version” that differs in page numbering and a few typos, but is identical in content – for $5, also available via email (info@mbird.com). Thanks for the support, and hope you enjoy!

P.S. Anything you can do to help us spread the word about this exciting project (sharing on social media, reviewing on Amazon, etc), we’d sure appreciate it.

May Playlist

Another Week Ends: Grace Cubed, Fay’s Tyndale, Not-So-New Atheists, Nihilist Arbys, Catholic Daredevils, and Tomorrowland

Another Week Ends: Grace Cubed, Fay’s Tyndale, Not-So-New Atheists, Nihilist Arbys, Catholic Daredevils, and Tomorrowland

1. It’s always gratifying to see the discussion about grace and law taking place in unexpected venues. For instance, over at The Living Church, a publication geared toward Episcopalians, a couple of articles have gone up recently about the preaching of absolution and the role of ethics/exhortation in the Christian life. Before you glaze over at the insider language, it would appear that Mockingbird–or at least our perspective–served as a reference point. In the initial post, “Grace, growth and God’s dream”, Jordan Hylden was critical of what he perceives to be a biblically reductive and borderline Manichean approach to the pulpit, raising some valuable (if familiar) questions in relation…

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2015 NYC Conference Recordings: Clean Slate – Absolution in Real Life

2015 NYC Conference Recordings: Clean Slate – Absolution in Real Life

An incredibly heartfelt thank-you to everyone who helped put on this year’s conference in NYC, especially our friends at Calvary St. George’s. We couldn’t be more grateful for how it all went. We are excited to announce that next year’s NY Conference will take place April 14-16, 2016!

Once again we are making the recordings available at no charge; we only ask that those who were not able to attend this year consider making a donation to help cover the cost of the event. Download links are followed by an in-line player for each recording. Almost everything was videotaped, and we’ll…

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2015 NYC Conference Book Table

2015 NYC Conference Book Table

Thanks again, so much, to all the volunteers, speakers, and attendees of our 2015 New York Conference! Recordings and videos are on their way, but for now, here’s what we featured this year on our conference book table. A bunch of familiar suspects with a few new additions (for more Recommended Reading, click here):

Photo courtesy of Ellis Creek Photography (www.elliscreekphotography.com/)

LITERATURE

W.H. Auden, The Dyer’s Hand and Other Essays
T.S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party
Mary Karr, Sinners Welcome: Poems
Flannery O’Conner, The Complete Stories
J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
Ted Scofield, Eat What You Kill
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis: The Ballad of Reading Gaol and Other Writings
Thornton…

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Internet Shame and the Price of a Reputation

Internet Shame and the Price of a Reputation

If you already have a list of podcasts you pretend to listen to, put Reply All at the top. It’s a show I had avoided for a while because it’s exclusively “a show about the internet,” a medium I surrender so much of my time to already. But I quickly found that, like most of the public radio offerings these days, it’s just another wide avenue for good human-interest stories. I mean, where else do you see human nature writ large than in your Instagram feed or in some nefarious Reddit comment chain? Besides, each episode is short—some are fifteen…

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Take Me to Church

Take Me to Church

I wore jeans on Easter Sunday.

I don’t remember the last time I missed church on Easter—or if there ever even has been a time. The Lord’s triumphant return from the grave, spring’s return to our calendars, and lapsed parishioners’ return to pews amalgamate into an unmissable Super-Bowl-Sunday among the observant. It’s like the newest club that has everything: fashion. Crowded sanctuaries. Clogged parking lots. Boisterous hymns.

And we missed it all. My family—husband, boys aged three years and six months, and I—have unintentionally participated in a sabbatical from church since our youngest was born last fall. We knew we would take…

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Bible Study – Tony Hoagland

Bible Study – Tony Hoagland

From the March 2015 Poetry. 

Who would have imagined that I would have to go
a million miles away from the place where I was born
to find people who would love me?
And that I would go that distance and that I would find those people?

In the dream JoAnne was showing me how much arm to amputate
if your hand gets trapped in the gears of the machine;
if you acted fast, she said, you could save everything above the wrist.
You want to keep a really sharp blade close by, she said.

Now I raise that hand to scratch one of those nasty little
scabs on the…

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