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NYC Conference: T-Minus Two Days and Counting!

NYC Conference: T-Minus Two Days and Counting!

This is the week, people! High time we announced the final talk titles:

Thurs PM “Rock n Roll All Night, Party Every Day: The Secret of Mockingbird’s Success” – Aaron Zimmerman

Friday AM “Jackwagon Junction: The Losing Battle of Being in Charge” – Sarah Condon “Hiding in Plain Sight: The Lost...

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Online Pre-Registration for the NYC Conference Now Closed

But there’s still room if you’d like to attend the sessions! Just hoof it over to the main sanctuary of St George’s at 7 Rutherford Place (btw 16th and 17th Sts, a few blocks from Union Square) any time during the conference, and we’ll set you up. Meals unfortunately are sold out, but don’t let that stop you from dropping by and saying hello. We’d love to see you.

Another Week Ends: Questing for Cultural Innocence, Narrating Luther, Inverting Transhumanism and Reforming One’s Pets

Another Week Ends: Questing for Cultural Innocence, Narrating Luther, Inverting Transhumanism and Reforming One’s Pets

Lots of love – commingled with envy – for everyone at the Tenth Annual Mockingbird Conference in NYC! “For the rest of us” (G. Costanza), some links for the weekend:

1. First up, The Hedgehog Review here in cville posted a wonderful article on “The Persistence of Guilt.” Who knew that the great Sigmund Freud once quipped, “the price we pay for our advance in civilization is a loss of happiness through the heightening of the sense of guilt”? The author argues that Freud helped “demoralize” guilt, to suggest that our guilty emotions were the product of the superego and could be…

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A Circle of Uncertainty and the Blessed (Interruption of) Assurance

A Circle of Uncertainty and the Blessed (Interruption of) Assurance

I almost called this post “The Cage of Anxiety,” but that seemed a little hokey. Still—playing off Auden’s poem is as good a place as any to start a discussion on anxiety, which was what Nitsuh Abebe does in the recent First Words essay for the New York Times Magazine:

In 1947, W.H. Auden published a very long poem that, despite winning a Pulitzer Prize, is now remembered less for its contents than for its title: “The Age of Anxiety.” Something about the idea that an age can be anxious must resonate deep in America’s cultural bones, because the phrase has been…

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In Praise of Excess: The Beauty of Babette’s Feast

In Praise of Excess: The Beauty of Babette’s Feast

Another sneak peek into the Food & Drink Issue, which will be on sale at the conference this weekend! Ethan’s essay is all about grace in the 1987 Danish film (and Oscar winner) Babette’s Feast.

Last winter, my wife Hannah found out she has celiac disease, the rare autoimmune disorder that means you can’t eat gluten. Contrary to the many gluten-free fads that have taken the nation by storm, people with celiac suffer a gluten intolerance that is microscopically comprehensive. The smallest gluten part per million—a dust particle in a vat of soup—can wreak havoc on her stomach.

The fact that we’re in…

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Now Available! The Man Who Met God in a Bar: The Gospel According to Marvin

Mercury may be in retrograde, but that hasn’t stopped us yet! We are pleased to announce the publication of The Man Who Met God in a Bar: The Gospel According to Marvin, by Robert Farrar Capon.

As many of you may already know, we have been given the distinct privilege of resurrecting a handful of out-of-print books by the acclaimed chef-theologian, Robert Farrar Capon. First up was the never-before-published More Theology and Less Heavy Cream (available here), a collection of musings on food, God, and everything in between, featuring Robert and his wife’s fictional alter-egos; and now, just in time for the big NYC Conference, we are pleased to present to you The Man Who Met God in a Bar, a completely outrageous novel that imaginatively retells the life of Jesus as though it had happened in 1990s Cleveland. Here’s the summary:

It’s time for a drink, Marvin Goodman decides after missing his red-eye out of Cleveland. Moseying into the airport bar, he encounters a charismatic young chef named Jerry—who also claims to be God. Before long, Marvin finds himself in the middle of a spiritual revival—witnessing miracles, healings and one everlasting anchovy pizza—in this weird and wonderfully inspired account of the Gospel story.

Click here to order your copy of The Man Who Met God in a Bar: The Gospel According to Marvin!  And look for it on Amazon soon.

What Sort of World? Trivial Expressions of the Transcendent ~ Randy Randall & Mary McCleary

You thought we had posted all the videos from the Tyler conference? Wrong again! Here’s Randy Randall’s enthralling (and highly relevant) on-stage discussion with renowned artist Mary McCleary. As you’ll see, audio alone wouldn’t have made much sense:

What Sort of World? Trivial Expressions of the Transcendent ~ Randy Randall & Mary McCleary from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Exploring the Oddball World of Leftfield Christian Music 1973-87, Pt. 2: A Mockingbird Breakout Preview

At last year’s NY Conference we mined deep, but there’s a ton more to share. In this breakout, we will continue to explore the world of obscure Christian funk and electronic music from yesteryear. We will learn about why early Christian hip-hop floundered so after its inception (hint: the reason is theological). And we’ll remember how radical it is to introduce a Moog into your worship band, in 1974 (!!). Then there’s Mr. T’s song about the Ten Commandments. Are you wondering what happened to Jimmy Mamou when he read the Bible in Hawaii? What about the nu-wave album that Gary Numan’s favorite guitarist made about the Holy Ghost? Or what Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s poetry sounds like when read aloud over a funky, clavinet-heavy groove? (note: Germany will be making a strong showing this year).  I can’t wait to share it all with you… Praise the Lord!

Today is the last day to pre-register online!

Saving Paul from the Academy: A Conference Breakout Preview

Only three days away! This breakout will be led by Professor Todd Brewer.

“The Academy” is a term used by both insiders and outsiders to speak about the world of biblical scholarship. It is a term meant to ascribe prestige and importance to one’s profession and life work. To be a card-carrying member of “the guild” – to use another term of esteem – is to be part of an elite club of professionals trapped by the perpetual need to justify their significance. But to most people, “the academy” is a term of intimidation to create a feeling of inadequacy on the part of the so-called, non-specialist layperson, thus making the Bible and faith itself feel like something you’re not qualified to have an opinion about.

Along the same lines, the last 40+ years of Pauline scholarship – with its almost iconoclastic radicalism – has so thoroughly revised the traditional understanding of Paul that many, if not most, feel unable to understand the Bible at all.

This breakout session has three, related goals. I first hope to offer a pointed critique at recent interpreters of Paul and their overall practice of interpretation, particularly those within what are known as the “New Perspective on Paul,” and the “anti-imperial Paul.” By way of critical-historical inquiry, these scholars ironically offer an allegorical reading of Paul by constantly reconstructing what St. Paul really said and overlooking what he actually said. Secondly, I hope to outline a positive vision for how to read the Bible, one that views it not as a riddle to be solved by the specialist, but as a conversation partner that wants to be charitably heard on its own terms, without being overinterpreted. Finally, I will examine Galatians 3:24-25 to offer some critical self-reflection on how Paul has been understood by Luther (and, by extension, Mockingbird!).

You, Too, Might Find God in a Jar of Queso

You, Too, Might Find God in a Jar of Queso

This reflection comes to us from Mimi Montgomery.

“When I want to take God at his word exactly, I take a peep out the window at Creation. Because that, darling, He makes fresh for us every day, without a lot of dubious middle managers.” – Barbara Kingsolver

“Father Sullivan hoped to elevate the present to a state of divine. It seemed from this moment of repose that God may well have been life itself. God may have been the baseball games, the beautiful cigarette he smoked alone after checking to see that all the bats had been put back behind the closet door…How…

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The Reformation Today: A Conference Breakout Preview

This preview comes to us from the host of this coming weekend’s festivities in NYC, The Rev. Jacob Smith himself.

This breakout is entitled “The Reformation Today” because “Is the Reformation Over?” has already been taken by everyone writing at First Things or The Gospel Coalition. Also, because at Mockingbird we believe the answer to that question is a resounding “NO.”

In order to make my pitch, I believe the shake up at the burger chain Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s has a lot to to say. For seventeen years, Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s defined their business not by amazing fast food burgers (when it comes to fast-food burgers they are the best) but instead by sexy models eating the burgers. Interestingly enough, this actually led to a drop in sales over time. A new ad campaign is throwing all that to the wind, with Carl Sr. coming back to office and taking Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s back to its roots: really, really good burgers and amazing customer service. Is the Reformation Over? It is–if the Reformation has to do with smoke machines or sermons on sex and community development.

As in life, the present is never understood by looking to the future (Carl Jr.).  We understand the present by looking to and understanding the past (Carl Sr.). In this breakout, we will take a trip back to our roots as Reformational Christians, and look briefly at some of the overlap between the English and German Reformations, which all came together in the person of Dr. Robert Barnes. Then using “The Reformation Essays of Dr. Robert Barnes,” we will define and answer the big question at the heart of the Reformation: “How is a person justified before God?” That is the question.  That question will help the church get out of the realm of trying to be cool and get back to the “Carl Sr. of Christianity.” With this question answered, we will examine some important pastoral implication in the midst of real pastoral ministry because when this question of justification is not answered correctly the real power and strength of Christianity is lost. This breakout is for anyone, especially those who are interested in pastoral care and practicing it from a perspective of “by grace alone!”

Another Week Ends: Humility, Hypocrisy, Kendrick Lamar, the Museum of Failure, the Bard of Suck, Late-Night Comedy, and “Slipping the Ideological Leash”

Another Week Ends: Humility, Hypocrisy, Kendrick Lamar, the Museum of Failure, the Bard of Suck, Late-Night Comedy, and “Slipping the Ideological Leash”

1. Popular depictions of Christianity, especially political ones, often prioritize joy, love, kindness, and — almost always — resolution. “The firm foundation.” But as Peter Wehner says this week in his surprisingly sympathetic NY Times op-ed, humility is often missing. Strange, considering this might be one of the few indisputable characteristics of the otherwise enigmatic Christ. Talk of spiritual fruit, though, gets tricky and usually spins off into a tirade of ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ without addressing what is. Wehner aptly navigates these snares:

At the core of Christian doctrine is the belief that we have all fallen short, that our loves are disordered and our…

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NYC Conference: T-Minus Two Days and Counting!

This is the week, people! High time we announced the final talk titles:

Thurs PM
“Rock n Roll All Night, Party Every Day: The Secret of Mockingbird’s Success” – Aaron Zimmerman

Friday AM
“Jackwagon Junction: The Losing Battle of Being in Charge” – Sarah Condon
“Hiding in Plain Sight: The Lost Doctrine of Sin” – Simeon Zahl

Friday PM
“Sisyphus’s Inbox” – Oliver Burkeman
“Culture Against Culture” – William Deresiewicz
“The Raising of the Crucified One” – Fleming Rutledge

Sat AM
“ARCHITECT: Fellow & Failing” – Duo Dickinson
“Did It Have to be Jesus?” – Nicole Cliffe
“Another Decade Ends: The First 10 Years in Flight” – David Zahl

View the full, final schedule here. We’ve also adjusted the menu ever so slightly (and added cold brew coffee!), which you can check out here.

Again, while the meals themselves are sold out, the conference is not. The more, the merrier in fact. Online pre-registration ends on Tuesday, but last-minute walk-ins are always welcome.

Oh and probably goes without saying, but there’s no cover charge on Friday night for this:

P.S. Those who’ve signed up for the pre-conference art tour with PZ, which is currently at capacity, will be receiving an email with details on Monday.