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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...

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...

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 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....

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!...

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...

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Another Week Ends: Script-Flipping Danish Cops, Gracious Nominees, Minimal Anxiety, Metal Words and Bowie’s Faves

Another Week Ends: Script-Flipping Danish Cops, Gracious Nominees, Minimal Anxiety, Metal Words and Bowie’s Faves

1. It’s getting to the point where NPR’s Invisibilia should just give up the ghost and rebrand themselves as Grace in Practice: The Podcast. Every time I think this second season couldn’t get any more relevant, they come out with an episode like “Flip the Script”, essentially an hour-length exploration of the psychology of imputation.

They open with a jaw-dropping story of a backyard BBQ in DC being interrupted by a stranger wielding a gun, threatening harm unless he’s given money, pronto. The couples in attendance don’t have any cash on them, and before they panic, one of the ladies offers…

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Our Grieving Hearts and the “Great Impertinence of Beauty”  (Or, Can Beauty Save the World?), Pt 1

Our Grieving Hearts and the “Great Impertinence of Beauty” (Or, Can Beauty Save the World?), Pt 1

This fascinating piece comes to us from Benjamin Self. This is the first in a two-part reflection.

My joy is gone, grief is upon me,
my heart is sick…
For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,
I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?

— Jeremiah 8: 18, 21-22

Painting by Gerald Cassidy

I.

The Sunday evening after this summer’s June 12th shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, several members of my church and I joined a few thousand other people from Louisville and Jeffersonville on the Big Four Bridge over the…

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Red Beard: Love Is Medicine

Red Beard: Love Is Medicine

A heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped put on last night’s screening of The Pawnbroker as part of our summer film series at the Avon Theater in Stamford, CT. What a wonderful night! We’ll be showing the third and final selection, Stars in My Crown, on Weds 8/24. On a related note, our recent book Mockingbird at the Movies, is now available on Kindle! To celebrate, we thought we’d post the first half of John Zahl’s closing essay on Red Beard, which many readers (ourselves included) have mentioned as a highlight.

 

Discussing Akira Kurosawa’s Red Beard (1965) in any detail is…

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How to Be a Person in a World of Divorce Delusions

How to Be a Person in a World of Divorce Delusions

I first ran across the name “Heather Havrilesky” back in 2011, when The New York Times Magazine published a column of hers comparing the tv shows Friday Night Lights and Glee. What she wrote knocked me flat, and formed the basis of one of our first posts to go (relatively) viral. Here was someone musing on our favorite themes in a national outlet, with a wit and compassion that we could only dream of mustering.

Since then, seldom a week has passed when I haven’t been on the lookout for her by-line. Because no matter what the topic, Havrilesky’s knack for…

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A Thousand Paper Cranes for the Vampire Queen: A Story About “The Meaning of Madness”

A Thousand Paper Cranes for the Vampire Queen: A Story About “The Meaning of Madness”

Since the Christian message is given through a narrative–a chronological, historical story–we have spent a lot of time on this site wrestling with the importance of the concept of ‘narrative’–both the pros and cons of it–and how it plays out in our lives. It seems clear that, though we gravitate naturally towards narratives and often define ourselves by them, these narratives can be limiting at best, and delusional at worst. Detachment from these narratives–what’s often called ‘mindfulness’–can be helpful in receiving a fuller picture of God’s love which breaks down our personal constructs. That said, we remain bound to our narratives and to our story-telling…

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A Potentially Massive Misjudgment (about Dreaming)

A Potentially Massive Misjudgment (about Dreaming)

“But What If We’re Wrong?” is the fascinating question that Chuck Klosterman asks in his new book (of the same name). He spends roughly 250 pages attempting to “think about the present as if it were the past”, meaning, he’s looking to uncover what we’ll look back on in 30, 50, 100 years and be shocked/embarrassed by the casual certitude with which we accepted it as truth. That is, what will our future generations thumb their noses at about our present day, the way we thumb our noses about, say, pesticides? What that we think is second-rate will be remembered…

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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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