Dead Horses, Repentance, and American Religion

Dead Horses, Repentance, and American Religion

Allen Tate, an admired Southern poet (friend of Robert Penn Warren and teacher of Robert Lowell), published an essay in 1930 diagnosing the complexities of Southern and, by extension, American religion. It appears in a work by defenders of the agrarian way of life, titled I’ll Take My Stand, a book...

Let’s Hear It for the Boys… And Girls

Let’s Hear It for the Boys… And Girls

Another great contribution from Stephanie Phillips:

“This could be our last big surprise in life,” I said to my husband on our way to the gender-reveal ultrasound of our second child a couple of months ago. He laughed at the melodrama of the statement even...

True Colors: Car Choices, Food Sources, and the Fauxthenticity of Our Times

True Colors: Car Choices, Food Sources, and the Fauxthenticity of Our Times

Now a month out from its release to your doorsteps, it’s now time to leak just a few samplings of what’s in our summer issue of The Mockingbird. If you feel you missed your chance, fear not! Click here and we’ll set you up.

This essay comes James Gilmore, business...

Religious Prejudice and Alcoholic Resurrections

Religious Prejudice and Alcoholic Resurrections

A particularly memorable section of “Bill’s Story,” in which Bill Wilson, primary author of The Big Book and co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, recounts what it was like to begin thinking about religious ideas afresh, in light of the significant internal resistance/baggage incurred by negative experiences he’d had with the church...

Introducing Mockingbird’s Guide to Genesis

Introducing Mockingbird’s Guide to Genesis

This piece originally appears as the Introduction chapter of Eden and Afterward, Mbird’s latest publication, which looks at Genesis through the lenses of literary commentary, theology, and everyday life. Contents include Adam, Abel, Noah, Babel, Abram, Hagar, Isaac, Jacob, Leah, Tamar, and Joseph.

There’s an old story of a Jewish rabbi who once...

2014 Fall Conference in Houston TX (10/17-18) – Pre-Registration Now Open!

2014 Fall Conference in Houston TX (10/17-18) – Pre-Registration Now Open!

Grace works without requiring anything on our part. It’s not expensive. It’s not even cheap. It’s free. – Robert Capon

The grace of God does not play it safe. It is imprudent, risky, foolish. It cannot be contained by the walls we build and masks we wear. It moves beyond deserving,...

Even As Though There Were No Law: William Tyndale on the Christian Life

Even As Though There Were No Law: William Tyndale on the Christian Life

Was William Tyndale, a founding father of Anglicanism, an antinomian? The following comes from his Prologue to the book of Romans. In it he outlines a Christian life which is unflinchingly active in works, yet it does so wholly apart from the law. In the economy of the Christian life,...

Al Green Explores Your Soul (and Spirit, too)

Al Green Explores Your Soul (and Spirit, too)

Al Green was a total stud, in every sense of that word, at the very top of the soul music food chain in the early 70s, when something Earth-shattering happened to him. A woman with whom he was involved asked him to marry her, and he brushed her off. A...

On Christian Nakedness (Muy Caliente!)

On Christian Nakedness (Muy Caliente!)

Vanity, definitely my favorite sin.

–The Devil (as played by Al Pacino)

I have a clothing problem.

It’s not that I spend too much money on clothes or that I’m obsessed with having the latest fashions. It’s that I put too much importance on what I wear.

In 2000, Nicolas Cage starred in The...

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn (and Are Not Clobbered by Platitudes or Advice)

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn (and Are Not Clobbered by Platitudes or Advice)

A few months ago we reported on Slate’s grief survey, focusing mainly on the pressure that the bereaved feel to grieve or not grieve “appropriately.” This past week, Slate released more of the survey’s findings, this time with the emphasis on “How to Help Friends in Mourning.” Or, as the...

Latest entries
For He Gives to His Beloved Sleep (Mode)

For He Gives to His Beloved Sleep (Mode)

What happens when we lose the final frontier? A look into the necessary uselessness of sleep.

Walker Percy on Going Down Before Going Up

Walker Percy on Going Down Before Going Up

A psychiatrist wants to buoy up one of Percy’s characters; she wants something else.

Failed Confessions of a Success-o-holic

Failed Confessions of a Success-o-holic

We’re told that learning how to handle failure is an important part of growing up. Yet we do everything we can to make sure our kids never experience it. What did Samuel Beckett actually mean when he told us to “fail better”? And what does it have to do–if anything–with the theology of the cross? All this and (not) much more!

“I Shall Be Released” – Charles Wright

115869

 

From the American poet laureate’s collection, Sestets

There is a consolation beyond nomenclature
of what is past
Or is about to pass, though I don’t know what it is.
Someone, somewhere, must, and this is addressed to him.

Come on, Long Eyes, crack the book.
Thumb through the pages and stop at the one with the golden script.
Breathe deeply and lay it on me,
that character with the luminous half-life.

NBW on the God Hanging From the Cross

The first in a series of excerpts from our recent interview with preacher and author Nadia Bolz Weber. The full interview can be found in the new issue of The Mockingbird. Suffice it to say, this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

PT-and-NBWMBIRD: It seems like what you’re describing most churches doing is theology of glory, rather than theology of the cross. Can you describe what you feel the difference is, theologically?

NBW: Yeah, the theology of glory is a lot of times the God that we project and expect. Basically, God is just as fear-mongering and spiteful and violent as we are. And theologians of glory stand above the cross looking down on it, sort of condemning the world.

But theologians of the cross, we see God where we don’t expect it. It is not the God we’ve created in our image. It is this completely unexpected, almost disturbingly counter-intuitive, totally offensive inversion to what we call power. Right? So, that is disturbing. Ultimately, the only thing that can save us is a God we couldn’t just concoct ourselves—a bigger version of us. And this God is not standing over the cross in condemnation of the world but actually hanging from the cross.

I feel like the theology of the cross—this idea that God is most present in human suffering, and these places where we wouldn’t expect any self-respecting God to show up—is uniquely poised to speak to this generation right now… I think people are aware of their suffering. They are aware of the suffering of others, the trauma of modern life, knowing about every single natural disaster and school shootings. They are carrying that around, and I feel like theology of the cross has something to say to that in a way that super-duper, cheerful, positive, human-empowerment Christianity never can.

For more, click here to order or subscribe to The Mockingbird.

On TV: The Leftovers, “Gladys”

On TV: The Leftovers, “Gladys”

And now for some thoughts on Damon Lindelof (LOST) and Peter Berg’s (Friday Night Lights) new show on HBO, The Leftovers. Spoiler Warning!

On the Unattainability of Social Righteousness

Pretty clever, this, ht BJ:

Jogarza and the Only Left-Handed Catcher (Ever): Netflix’s Battered Bastards of Baseball

Jogarza and the Only Left-Handed Catcher (Ever): Netflix’s Battered Bastards of Baseball

A look into the new Netflix documentary on the scrappy, beer-belching, independent pro baseball team, Portland’s Mavericks, their bizarre lineup of rejects and castoffs, and the wild joke they pulled on Major League Baseball.

What Is Not Working for Christian Wiman

MAGIC-IN-THE-MOONLIGHT-posterWe are about six weeks away from the publication of Christian Wiman’s new collection of poetry, Once in the West, and what better way to prepare than with quick quote from that gift that keeps on giving, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer:

If God is a salve applied to unbearable psychic wounds, or a dream figure conjured out of memory and mortal terror, or an escape from a life that has become either too appalling or too banal to bear, then I have to admit: it is not working for me. Just when I think I’ve finally found some balance between active devotion and honest modern consciousness, all my old anxieties come pressuring up through the seams of me, and I am as volatile and paralyzed as ever…

Be careful. Be certain that your expressions of regret about your inability to rest in God do not have a tinge of self-satisfaction, even self-exaltation to them, that your complaints about your anxieties are not merely a manifestation of your dependence on them. There is nothing more difficult to outgrow than anxieties that have become useful to us, whether as explanations for a life that never quite finds its true force or direction, or as fuel for ambition, or as a kind of reflexive secular religion that, paradoxically, unites us with others in a shared sense of complete isolation: you feel at home in the world only by never feeling at home in the world. (pg 9-10)

Subject: Fwd: And They Lived Realistically Ever After

I usually roll my eyes at and delete email forwards. But I just received one worth passing on that had the subject “The endings of All the fairy tales……….” The email included about a dozen images of fairytale, cartoon, and superhero characters later in life with children on their hips, grey hair, beer bellies, and the like. Maybe you received this one back in 1999 or thereabouts, and I’ll admit that the quality degraded as I scrolled down, but the first couple are gems:

Cinderella

Cinderella is divorced…

Snow White

Snow White has not been so lucky…

Hopelessly Devoted (on Steroids): Leviticus Chapter Twelve Verses One Through Eight

Hopelessly Devoted (on Steroids): Leviticus Chapter Twelve Verses One Through Eight

Sometimes an infant can bring you rest. No I’m not crazy; I have three kids, the youngest born just last October. I did say “sometimes”! Infants in general DO NOT bring you rest, specifically Larkin babies, they love to scream…all day and night. I once wrote a sermon bobbing up and down for two hours to keep the baby asleep…Infants are A LOT of work and rest is not a word associated with them…typically. But sometimes, as a nursing mother, I have certain moments where my baby pins me down to a couch or a bed, rendering me incapable of…

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Another Week Ends: Overrated Successes, Disappointing Babies, Nostalgia for Human Error, Impossible Repayment and Technocrat Baseball

Another Week Ends: Overrated Successes, Disappointing Babies, Nostalgia for Human Error, Impossible Repayment and Technocrat Baseball

1. William Deresiewicz’s clickbaity “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League” draws in high-achievers and their parents to, well, pull the rug out from under them. Apologies for the lengthy quotes, but it’s very good, ht MB:

These enviable youngsters appear to be the winners in the race we have made of childhood. But the reality is very different, as I have witnessed in many of my own students and heard from the hundreds of young people whom I have spoken with on campuses or who have written to me over the last few years. Our system of elite education manufactures…

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Exciting News! Big Expansion to The Mockingpulpit

MPULPIT1One of the projects our interns have been working on this summer is an expansion of our sermon archives. We’re happy to let you know that the first stage is completed and ready for your enjoyment!

The expansion is comprised of two large “collections”: one from long-time Mbird contributor RJ Heijmen, whose sermons from his time at St Paul’s in New York have been added, and the second from Paul Zahl, whose sermons from his tenure as Dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, AL have been added, over 130 in total. A few references may be a little dated now, but the core message is anything but. Together, they represent two generations of preaching the Gospel of grace in a fresh and down-to-earth way that we hope will be helpful and refreshing. All 130 are searchable by scripture and date.

Subscribe to The Mockingpulpit podcast by clicking here. New sermons added every week!

P.S. Loyal listeners: Don’t be shy about giving The Mockingpulpit a rating/review on iTunes. We need all the help we can get spreading the word.

“Enter Sandman” Mariano Rivera and the “Long Arm” of the Law

“Enter Sandman” Mariano Rivera and the “Long Arm” of the Law

It was perhaps the best “mid-game entrance” routine in the history of sports. I certainly can’t think of anything that comes close. When Mariano Rivera strolled out of the bullpen in Yankee Stadium to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”, it was game over. The ominous, yet melodic heavy metal tune certainly added to the mystique. It truly stunk to be on the opposing team.

Exit light
Enter night
Take my hand
Off to never never land

Rivera not only has the most saves in baseball history, he also has the highest save percentage (89%) among the all-time greats.  (The save statistic is defined for closers as either…

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Dead Horses, Repentance, and American Religion

Dead Horses, Repentance, and American Religion

Allen Tate, an admired Southern poet (friend of Robert Penn Warren and teacher of Robert Lowell), published an essay in 1930 diagnosing the complexities of Southern and, by extension, American religion. It appears in a work by defenders of the agrarian way of life, titled I’ll Take My Stand, a book with some high points of wisdom which are neglected, now, as a result of its significant/egregious low points of racism and Southern revanchism. Tate finds American religion to be pragmatic in a bad way, focused on an abstract ability to work rather than a view of the whole human. You can…

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