Midlife Crises and Expectation Gaps

Midlife Crises and Expectation Gaps

As suspected, the cover story for November’s Atlantic Monthly, Jonathan Rauch’s “The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis”, contains more than a handful of relevant tidbits. The article is concerned less with the particulars of sports cars and second marriages and more with the “U-Curve of Happiness”–the phenomenon reported across countries, cultures...

Lonely Ladies and Distracted Dudes: A Few Thoughts on Romantic (and Sexual) Illusion

Lonely Ladies and Distracted Dudes: A Few Thoughts on Romantic (and Sexual) Illusion

There’s a line toward the beginning of Whit Stillman’s Barcelona (above – 2:15 mark) where the protagonist, Ted Boynton, admits to having “a real romantic illusion problem”. He is frustrated that he seems to fall for women based almost exclusively on physical appearance, when what he really wants is “to see the...

2014 Fall Conference Recordings: The Risk of Grace

2014 Fall Conference Recordings: The Risk of Grace

An enormously heartfelt thank-you to everyone who helped put on our Fall Conference in Houston, TX: our friends at St. Thomas Episcopal Church for hosting, The Magills for playing such fantastic music (click here to check out their stuff on iTunes), Mark and David Babikow for being such lifesavers on...

Attitudes of Gratitude and the Most Psychologically Correct Holiday

Attitudes of Gratitude and the Most Psychologically Correct Holiday

John Tierney, co-author of Willpower, published a column in The NY Times, which begins with the declaration that the most “psychologically correct holiday is upon us.” As much as I love Christmas, and as much as the spiritual/religious significance of Easter dwarves all its cousins, I can’t help but agree...

Unredeemable Art and Wise Words From Madeleine L’Engle

Unredeemable Art and Wise Words From Madeleine L’Engle

When it comes to favorite art, I have an ever-growing list of guilty pleasures, a term which usually refers to some kind of light-hearted or even redeemable creation: Unfortunately, here, I’m not going to write about redemption in Taylor Swift’s new album (“It’s fun though…”). I’m more interested in the...

The Trivial Pursuits of Lena Dunham

The Trivial Pursuits of Lena Dunham

In one of the final chapters of Lena Dunham’s new memoir Not That Kind of Girl, entitled “Therapy & Me”, Lena describes her first anxiety-ridden experience of sitting down as a germophobic, obsessive-compulsive nine-year-old with a prospective shrink. It is a “quirky, self-destructive Lena” moment, like so many moments in...

Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash: A Parable of Stifling Perfection

Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash: A Parable of Stifling Perfection

[Mild spoilers follow.] As a writer, I’ve found, you’re always searching for material. A friend’s talking to you about a bad breakup, years of religious doubt and self-recrimination for doubting, a car wreck, DUI, or lost job. Suddenly, once an insight seems to hit you – or even a situation with...

Smoke and Mirrors and Romans 8

Smoke and Mirrors and Romans 8

This one comes to us from Emily Price: I recently started working for my husband.

This may not be the wisest career or marriage move, but it was borne of necessity. My husband just opened his own law firm. Rather than hire an associate to help, he looked across the breakfast table...

Issue 3 of The Mockingbird Out Now!

Issue 3 of The Mockingbird Out Now!

The Relationship Issue (No. 3) is here! Let it be known: you will not be disappointed. Interviews with Modern Love editor Daniel Jones, and the Oscar-winning team behind Undefeated. Essays on marriage, parenthood, relationships with bandmates, relationships with God. A short story from Welcome Wagoner Vito Aiuto, brand new poems by Brad Davis....

Latest entries


Leszek Kolakowski on Inevitable Defeat and the Order of the Sacred

Interesting piece by Jack Miles in the new issue of The Atlantic Monthly about “Why God Will Not Die”, worth reading in its entirety, though what struck me most was the quote he included from Polish thinker Leszek Kolakowski, from his essay “The Revenge of the Sacred in Secular Culture” (1973), ht AZ:

Religion is man’s way of accepting life as an inevitable defeat. That it is not an inevitable defeat is a claim that cannot be defended in good faith. One can, of course, disperse one’s life over the contingencies of every day, but even then it is only a ceaseless and desperate desire to live, and finally a regret that one has not lived. One can accept life, and accept it, at the same time, as a defeat only if one accepts that there is sense beyond that which is inherent in human history—if, in other words, one accepts the order of the sacred.

Considering “Our Mommy Problem”

Considering “Our Mommy Problem”

A few weekends ago I traveled to South Carolina to spend a long weekend with six of my closest college friends. Between the seven of us, we left eleven children behind to be cared for by some combination of dads, grandparents and babysitters. The trip was incredibly restful. Even more restful than the naps, the clean home, or the leisurely cups of coffee every morning was the experience of being with a group of people who don’t identify me as or relate to me as my children’s mother. My college friends are scattered coast to coast, and we have never…

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Hopelessly Devoted: First Timothy Chapter Four Verses Eleven through Sixteen

Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday (and a much-needed reprieve for our office!) comes this devotion in today’s spot, from Jonathan Mumme–a reminder of the gift we have that holds the whole thing together.

Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift [charisma] you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:11-16, ESV)

como-acabar-con-tu-jefe-04Poor Timothy—what a load! Paul, his “father in the faith,” has left town, sticking him with quite the laundry list. And yet that sounds an awful lot like typical Christianity, doesn’t it? Taking the burden from your shoulders and laying a dozen in its place. Hit atonement like a drive-thru, and with that bag in hand, speed off to the highway of “the Christian life” of moral responsibility, Scripture reading, character-building. Christianity somehow became a life of holy burdens.

There in the middle of all that is given him to do, though, is that which is given to him wholly and fully. The sine qua non—neglect it and it will all fall apart—is the charisma (gift) in him.

The certainty with which Paul approaches the ministry is the same certainty under which Timothy gets to operate: if the Lord has put him to it, the Lord himself will do it, and the Lord has certainly put him to it. Is Timothy the one saving or preserving himself and his hearers, or is God Himself the Savior of all, including Timothy and his hearers? Paul says it is not an either/or: God saves, and Timothy is responsible for the saving where he has been placed. It is not God without Timothy, nor is it God x% and Timothy x%, but God fully and Timothy fully. Whatever saving Timothy is set to be doing, it will be the Lord doing it, and that goes for the ordering, reading, preaching, teaching and the rest of this grand, long list of things given to do along with the gift given.

Where do you feel you and God are working 50-50? Where does God feel absent or dormant? Where does his presence feel all too present?

What is to be done in the Church is what God himself gives to be done. Toward that doing He gives gifts. Tasks given, gift given, to Paul and Timothy and others who are surely put in place; it is the Lord, the Savior, seeing to the whole show.

Another Week Ends: GiP, Skinny Law, Depressed Clowns, Motivational Luther, Hipster Businesses, Nickelback Hate, Father John Misty, and Penelope Fitzgerald

Another Week Ends: GiP, Skinny Law, Depressed Clowns, Motivational Luther, Hipster Businesses, Nickelback Hate, Father John Misty, and Penelope Fitzgerald

1. First, there’s Steve Hall’s remarkable podcast about one of our favorite books, Paul Zahl’s Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life. Thoughtful, heartfelt, and ingeniously brief, he manages to do the book justice–and capture something genuinely important–in a mere five and a half minutes:

Those living in the tri-state area take note: Dr. Zahl will be presenting at Olmsted Salon in NYC this coming Monday evening, 11/24 at 7pm, on the topic of “An Odd Sighting of the Paranormal: ‘Penrod’ Crosses Over to the Great Beyond” Fans of The Magnificent Ambersons (those proto-Tenenbaums), both the Orson Welles film version and the original novel…

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HBO’s State of Play, Season Two, Episode One – The Science of Happiness

HBO’s State of Play, Season Two, Episode One – The Science of Happiness

Mockingbird favorite Peter Berg (creator, NBC’s Friday Night Lights series, co-creator HBO’s The Leftovers) is back with another season of State of Play.  This season will be a four-part documentary series that goes behind the scenes of the “football life”. In episode one, “Happiness”, Berg features three prominent NFL players and how they have struggled to find happiness after their professional football careers. Berg also interviews a number of high profile psychologists who break down the “science” of happiness.

Berg’s results are mixed. Happiness in a post-NFL life is achieved (according to Berg’s panel of professionals) by finding a combination of…

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Risky Business: Jesus Meets a Control Freak – RJ Heijmen

The second of our Fall Conference videos is here!

Risky Business: Jesus Meets a Control Freak – RJ Heijmen from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Lonely Ladies and Distracted Dudes: A Few Thoughts on Romantic (and Sexual) Illusion

Lonely Ladies and Distracted Dudes: A Few Thoughts on Romantic (and Sexual) Illusion

There’s a line toward the beginning of Whit Stillman’s Barcelona (above – 2:15 mark) where the protagonist, Ted Boynton, admits to having “a real romantic illusion problem”. He is frustrated that he seems to fall for women based almost exclusively on physical appearance, when what he really wants is “to see the real person, maybe even look into her eyes and see her soul.” He says these words with a completely straight face, and his cousin Fred responds incredulously. It’s a funny interchange, not the least because Ted sounds convinced that this phenomenon, of sexual attraction overwhelming better judgment, is peculiar to him…

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Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash: A Parable of Stifling Perfection

Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash: A Parable of Stifling Perfection

[Mild spoilers follow.] As a writer, I’ve found, you’re always searching for material. A friend’s talking to you about a bad breakup, years of religious doubt and self-recrimination for doubting, a car wreck, DUI, or lost job. Suddenly, once an insight seems to hit you – or even a situation with a certain intellectual appeal – the ideas become all, and their textures, contexts, and the unfortunate people living in them become pared back, leaving you with what feels like the beginnings of a great article, essay, even poem. The real world fades away, and all you’re left with, all you…

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The Trivial Pursuits of Lena Dunham

The Trivial Pursuits of Lena Dunham

In one of the final chapters of Lena Dunham’s new memoir Not That Kind of Girl, entitled “Therapy & Me”, Lena describes her first anxiety-ridden experience of sitting down as a germophobic, obsessive-compulsive nine-year-old with a prospective shrink. It is a “quirky, self-destructive Lena” moment, like so many moments in her book, and her show Girls, and so it would be nearly unremarkable if it weren’t for the subtext:

The first doctor, a violet-haired grandma-aged woman with a German surname, asks me a few simple questions and then invites me to play with the toys scattered across her floor. She sits…

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Sisyphus Says: Listen to John Davis (An Interview)

Sisyphus Says: Listen to John Davis (An Interview)

Many thanks to Josh Encinias for arranging, carrying out, and writing up this interview with one of our all time favorites, John Davis. 

John Davis doesn’t just shred on guitar.

Last Wednesday was Christmas morning for true believers. John Davis (The Lees of Memory, Superdrag) dropped demos for his scrapped third LP. While the 20 demos on Heart Medicine: Hypothetical Solo Jamz Vol. III: 2007-2013 aren’t a cohesive bunch — ranging from gospel tunes to hardcore — Davis didn’t pick these tracks from the musical scrap heap.

I was introduced to JD when he opened for the OC Supertones’s “final” show back in 2005…

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Smoke and Mirrors and Romans 8

Smoke and Mirrors and Romans 8

This one comes to us from Emily Price:

I recently started working for my husband.

This may not be the wisest career or marriage move, but it was borne of necessity. My husband just opened his own law firm. Rather than hire an associate to help, he looked across the breakfast table to yours truly. So, I dusted five years worth of spit-up and Legos off my law degree and set to writing.

Working toward my first deadline, I grew anxious. Like any self-respecting sinner, I projected that anxiety onto someone I love. I started snapping at my husband over every little thing….

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The Hill and Wood Lets a Good Thing Grow

With an icy breeze blowing through the East Coast, what say we warm up with a glimpse at the charming video for “Let a Good Thing Grow”, the main single off The Hill and Wood’s excellent, new Opener EP. Everyone is giving birth to something, indeed:

LET A GOOD THING GROW from Charlotte Hornsby on Vimeo.

The rest of the EP is just as breath-taking and exquisitely crafted, packed with beautiful harmonies and gorgeously unwinding melodies. Even after 100-plus listens, “Oil Spill” still gives goose bumps. And the second half of “The First Time” may be the most rapturous music these two have committed to tape (which is saying something).

Full disclosure: The Hill and Wood is led by the ueber-talented Sam Bush, a name you may have seen on here before. Fortunately for us, Sam has also just recorded a side project with bluegrass singer Kathryn Caine, A Very Love and Mercy Christmas. I know it’s too early to bust out the carols, but when you do, this is our pick of the season.