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Pokémon, Pharisees, and the Importance of Play

Pokémon, Pharisees, and the Importance of Play

Pokémon GO hit smartphones just over a week ago and it’s already an international phenomenon. In the American market, the game reached No. 1 on the downloads chart in just 13 hours, and according to some vendors, is pulling in $2 million a day. It is already more popular than Tinder and...

Misplaced Atonement

Misplaced Atonement

Everyone wants an answer for the violence we have witnessed over the past week. You are not going to get that from me. I may not be the most humble person on the planet, but I’m not delusional enough to think I possess some special insight on how to fix...

The Lonely Island of Waiting to be Healed

The Lonely Island of Waiting to be Healed

I have an MFA in Photography. I tell you this because, obviously, it’s really very impressive. But also to prove my know-how in the metaphor I’m about to illustrate: Waiting is a lot like standing in front of the developing tray in a darkroom. From the Christian’s perspective – that...

EpiscoDisco: The Documentary – Out Now!

EpiscoDisco: The Documentary – Out Now!

Let’s face it–this is probably the single coolest thing Mockingbird has ever been involved with, or will ever be involved with. I’m talking about the short documentary on DJ JAZ and “The Episco Disco” that VICE (and their electronic music division Thump) filmed at our conference in NYC this year. A culmination of culminations!...

Grace in Goofiness

Grace in Goofiness

This piece was written by Carrie Willard.

My parents have three daughters and a son. We girls were, and are: rule-followers, studious, somewhat-to-highly anxious, bookish. Two of the three of us skipped a grade and became valedictorians of our high school classes, while the other was the salutatorian, and all of us...

The Individual Sufferer and Preaching like a Bad Kid

The Individual Sufferer and Preaching like a Bad Kid

This one comes to us from our friend, Cody Gainous.

I get tasked with the Sunday morning sermon pretty regularly at the parish I serve, even though I’m only the Youth Minister. I’m always grateful for the invitation, and I’m always humbled by the opportunity. Beloved Father Capon says in his...

The Secret to Long-Term Relationships: Insanity?

The Secret to Long-Term Relationships: Insanity?

We’ve all been there. You say something to a friend or family member or spouse that seems innocuous. “Have you seen my sunglasses?”. “I may have to postpone our lunch.” Or maybe you do something thoughtless but minor. You forget to return an email. You borrow a piece of clothing without asking....

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This Blog was Bound for Failure

This Blog was Bound for Failure

Here’s one from Carrie Willard. 

In the summer of 2009, my family participated in a Community Supported Agriculture farm share for the first time. We “subscribed” to a crop share with a local farm, and each week, we planned our meals based on whatever variety of organic vegetables came in that week’s farm box. I (kind of) gave up my tight-clenched first of control over our weekly menu, breezily mentioning to friends that we “ate with the seasons,” lah-dee-dah, so whatever showed up in the box each week is what we ate. I read Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver, watched “Food, Inc.”…

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Sin and Grace in Julien Baker’s Sprained Ankle

Sin and Grace in Julien Baker’s Sprained Ankle

This one comes to us from Cody Gainous. 

Julien Baker believes in God. So reads the title of Rachel Syme’s excellent piece on the Memphis, TN native for The New Yorker back in April. When I say that sin and grace are the themes of Julien’s debut Sprained Ankle, I’m not stretching, or even saying anything that Baker would not say herself. This is an album filled with explicitly Christian imagery, and the artist, born and raised in the Bible Belt, unapologetically claims Christianity and apparently attends Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Murfreesboro.

When I saw the New Yorker article, I immediately…

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The Magnetism of the Exiled Soul to Stranger Things

The Magnetism of the Exiled Soul to Stranger Things

The most succinct way to describe Stranger Things is to say that it’s Steven Spielberg meets Stephen King–meets Netflix. It’s eight episodes and totally watchable in one week, or one night, depending on how willing you are to sacrifice your REMs. (Be warned: You’ll find it hard to finish one episode and resist at least watching the incredible opening credits for the next.)

Stranger Things tells the story of Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) who, like the woman searching for coins (Lk 15), frantically searches for her missing son, Will; meanwhile Will’s group of motley twelve-year-old friends, who have also been searching for him, stumble across…

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Good News at World’s End: Grace in Eschatology – Will McDavid

Here’s the next breakout video from our NYC Conference, in which Macon’s favorite son takes us out of our comfort zone to deliver, well, comfort (as only he can). Enjoy:

Good News at World’s End: Grace in Eschatology – Will McDavid from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Come See The Pawnbroker in Stamford with PZ (Weds 7/27)

mBdFO2DLxyDyz14zjeiZOu6NG7RThe Pawnbroker came out in 1965 and stars Rod Steiger as a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz who is suffering from acute P.T.S.D. The Pawnbroker was notorious at the time for a scene of nudity that was a “first” for Hollywood. It also contained a way of editing flashbacks that was exciting and fresh. Moreover, The Pawnbroker was the first mainstream movie to deal directly with the Holocaust.

But seeing it now — and all the above are true — it is even better. The film observes a man under overwhelming stress from suppressed memories. They simply will break through. The Pawnbroker also makes some powerful observations about men and women. A scene towards the end between Rod Steiger and Geraldine Fitzgerald is almost worth the entire movie.

For religious people, and specifically for Christians, there are images in The Pawnbroker from the Passion that are both moving and somewhat controversial, especially if you believe, as many do, that the Holocaust is the possession solely of its actual victims. I myself think the iconography of The Pawnbroker works. When I saw it 51 years ago, I was affected to my teenaged core and didn’t know why.

Join me, Paul Zahl, this Wednesday in Stamford, CT at The Avon (right off I-95 and parking is easy); the theater is also short walking distance from the Stamford RR station — for the second in our Mockingbird-sponsored series entitled “Religious Hope from the Movies”. That’s Wednesday, July 27 at 7:30 pm. I shall introduce the movie briefly, and moderate a short discussion afterwards.

Another Week Ends: A Statue of Barney Fife, the Eradication of the First Person Perspective, the Story of Taylor Swift, the Deep Magic of David Brooks, and the Resurrection of Ricardo Lockette

Another Week Ends: A Statue of Barney Fife, the Eradication of the First Person Perspective, the Story of Taylor Swift, the Deep Magic of David Brooks, and the Resurrection of Ricardo Lockette

Check out this week’s edition of The Mockingcast, which features an interview with writer/theologian Peter Leithart!

1. To start, let’s go back to Mayberry… 

Don Knotts, who played Barney Fife in “The Andy Griffith Show,” is being honored in his hometown with a statue of himself in front of the local theater. This story from The Clarion-Ledger discusses Knotts’s life and history, and delves into his childhood–it reminded me of when one of my most cheerful friends told me the truth about his own ‘inner demons’. I’d known him for years and, from the outside, he’d always seemed to be a beacon of endless joy….

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Church of the Deconstruction

Church of the Deconstruction

This piece was featured in Issue 7 of The Mockingbird: The Church Issue. Issue 8 is well underway!

In a recent visit to Mexico, Pope Francis spoke to a congregation of Mexican bishops and clergy. His words were harsh, to say the least. Instead of decrying the social and political upheaval of the country, or its history of human trafficking and drug violence, the pontiff pointed the finger at his subordinates, warning them of their seduction by religious power:

Do not allow yourselves to be corrupted by trivial materialism or by the seductive illusion of underhanded agreements; do not place your faith…

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And We’re Back!

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Deepest apologies for going AWOL so unexpectedly these past few days. This is just a little note to say that after some technical difficulties, we are officially back! Thank you for your patience and especially to everyone who reached out in the interim and left “miss you” notes in our inboxes.

More content on the way. Stay tuned!

From the Archives: Optimizing the Sabbath (One Pillow at a Time)

From the Archives: Optimizing the Sabbath (One Pillow at a Time)

The following originally appeared as a guest post to Amy Julia Becker’s Thin Places blog over at Christianity Today. Some readers may notice a few, er, congruencies with past Mbird posts:

A couple of years ago, The New York Times ran a remarkably astute editorial about the state of American sleep. Apparently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently declared insomnia to be a full-blown public health epidemic. The “Sleep Industry”—a $32 billion/year endeavor—has responded. They’ve introduced a spate of new soporific technology, from pills and teas and chocolates to bracelets and mattresses. (The number one selling paid app on…

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Coram Deo: Dust, Ashes and Grace  

Coram Deo: Dust, Ashes and Grace  

This one was written by Nico Ghibaudy.

Sin weighs a ton.

Or at least it feels that way. We are easily deceived in moments of weakness. It’s easy to allow the cinderblock of post-sin guilt to outweigh the infinite joy we have in the presence of God. Guilt feels heavier. Turning to Jesus in the aftermath of a sinful fall is like a child looking his parents in the face after he was told not to draw on the wall with colored markers but did it anyway. It’s hard to look our Father square in the face and admit that we…

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The Lonely Island of Waiting to be Healed

The Lonely Island of Waiting to be Healed

I have an MFA in Photography. I tell you this because, obviously, it’s really very impressive. But also to prove my know-how in the metaphor I’m about to illustrate: Waiting is a lot like standing in front of the developing tray in a darkroom. From the Christian’s perspective – that before God formed us in the womb, He knew us – the film has already been exposed, developed, transferred to paper, and then set apart as a piece of incomparable and beloved craftsmanship. But as the photographer stands alone in the dark, gently rocking the tray of the developing bath,…

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Walker Percy’s Two Classes of Maniacs

Walker Percy’s Two Classes of Maniacs

As the Mental Health Issue is coming together, it is becoming quite apparent that one of our chief navigators in the strange land of the human mind will be the one and only Walker Percy. This passage comes from his wildly original and heartwarming novel, The Second Coming. It is a portion of a letter written by the novel’s leading man, Will Barrett, a successful and well-respected retiree who has recently taken a fall into the “mentally unstable” category…by the grace of God. For Percy, his salvation can come only by way of the absurd–by truly examining the absurd existence he finds himself inhabiting. You will notice here that…

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