Alright, kemosabes, we decided to put together a gift guide this year. Apologies in advance for not straying terribly far from our books/movies/music wheelhouse:
For the cousin who’s been asking you where to start with all this grace stuff: One Way Love by Tullian Tchividjian
For the unemployed/underemployed recent college graduate or Teach For America burnout: Breaking Bad: The Complete Series
For the millennial son/daughter with a good sense of humor who keeps trying to shock you with his/her cynicism (but deep down just wants some love): We Learn Nothing by Tim Kreider or Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
For the Star…
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Okay, for the record, this is not a joke. You may have thought it was enough to have moments of existential terror while off your mobile devices. Say, standing before a mighty ocean or amid a fall landscape. It can even happen while sitting at a stop light or getting off the elliptical–you know, those “What’s the point?” moments, where you have an interrupting self-appraisal of the elemental stuff of life. “What am I doing all this for,” you ask yourself, “when someday I’m going to die?”
Well, now you don’t have to wait for these moments to assault your plans,…
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What do you get when you throw Owen Wilson, Harry Dean Stanton, Dawes, and The Killers into an animated Warren Zevon-shaped (eggnog) blender? You get “Christmas in LA”, this year’s Christmas single from The Killers, and another entry in their immaculate seasonal catalog. As great as the song is–the perfect mix of the Vegas band’s wonderfully overblown Pet Shop Boys-meets-Springsteen sugar rush and Dawes’ Asylum Records-meets-Big Pink-isms–the video makes it even better, especially Harry Dean Stanton’s opening salvo. “Kind of takes the pressure off,” indeed:
P.S. Mbird is in the midst of sending out our year-end newsletter/appeal. If you’d like to receive one, be sure to sign up for our mailing list! Bill Watterson’s beloved creations may or may not make an appearance.
We promised there would be more excerpts from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest! This one comes from a clandestine mountain-top conversation between a Quebecois nationalist/”Wheelchair Assassin” named Marathe and the US undercover agent Hugh/Helen Steeply. Some people consider their (lengthy) sparring matches to be the lowpoints of book, real momentum killers (pun intended), and I’m not sure I’d disagree. Still, taken out of context, DFW packed quite a bit of beauty and weight and humor into them. Their standing disagreement about the nature of freedom sticks out as particularly quotable–and lest you think DFW is being overly didactic, be sure…
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This reflection on redemption ‘in practice’ in Disney’s movie Frozen comes from our friend Michael Belote, first posted on his blog Reboot Christianity. (And while we’re on the subject of illustrations/examples for Christianity, we couldn’t recommend more highly his Geek’s Guide to Christianity.)
Every year on Black Friday, my wife goes shopping and the boys and I go to my parents’ house. We watch some football, eat some leftovers, play some video games, and (usually) go to a movie. This year we went and saw the best theology-rich movie in years.
Seriously, this movie was amazing. It was poignant, subtle, brilliantly directed…
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This is pretty amazing, ht DZ:
Iron Mike is at it again, and this time he’s brought some other hall-of-fame athletes. The short clip beautifully embodies a certain kind of freedom, each according to their own…interesting and sympathetic careers/lives. The root of the commercial’s charm is its candor–each athlete simply doesn’t take themselves very seriously. The sting of their ‘transgression’ is gone. “All is right with the world” indeed, I must say!
When it comes to articulating religious insights in secular terms, no one does it better than philosopher Alain de Botton, AKA he of Religion for Atheists fame. We’ve written about his rather Bultmannian genius before, but none of that prepared me for the TED talk he gave in 2009 about notions of success (and failure). Whereas elsewhere he mines Christian wisdom more generally, here he goes straight for law and grace, albeit in their aggressively lower-cased forms. The conclusion may naturally be a little fuzzy/abrupt–be sure to listen to the Q&A–the diagnosis is absolutely stunning. If you’re at all like me, you’ll be hooked from the first sentence, ht JD:
Speaking of de Botton, much to his credit, when asked by The New Statesman to select his favorite book of 2012, he went with the following:
This year, I was touched by Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense. As a non-Christian, indeed a committed atheist, I was worried about how I’d feel about this book but it pulled off a rare feat: making Christianity seem appealing to those who have no interest in ever being Christians. A number of Christian writers have over the past decade tried to write books defending their faith against the onslaughts of the new atheists – but they’ve generally failed. Spufford understands that the trick isn’t to try to convince the reader that Christianity is true but rather to show why it’s interesting, wise and sometimes consoling.
I can’t pass up the opportunity to link to Alan Jacobs’ rave review of the same liked-it-so-much-we-invited-the-author-to-speak-book, which just went live on the Books & Culture website.
When the Apostle Paul defended his teachings of the gospel, there were occasions where he needed to flaunt a little bit of street cred- “A Hebrew of Hebrews” he called himself, while toting his education and family heritage. So before I begin writing about Star Wars, allow me to follow the Apostle Paul’s example.
Do you love Star Wars? Yes. It was my idol and religion before becoming a Christian.
How much do you love Star Wars? When the movie prequels came out, I made my own Jedi costume and wore it to theaters. I wasn’t yet alive when the originals came…
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This one comes to us from local mod Lex Booth:
Last fall, my older brother (25) kept bugging me to listen to The Who’s 1973 ‘rock opera’ Quadrophenia, a concept album which tells a story about a kid named Jimmy who took amphetamines and rode a Vespa in 1960’s Britain… What are you trying to say, bro? Although I have no special love for classic rock, I must admit that ‘I liked it’ even after a single listen and have revisited the album many times since. When the AV Club recently made the bold claim that Quadrophenia is “cohesive and…
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Mockingbird is graciously hosting my Christmas mix again this year. 2013 reveals sort of a punker/”classic” indie lean, with plenty of originals alongside chestnuts roasted with new recipes. Other genre excursions too, natch. Hope you find some new favorites to brighten your Advent and Christmas seasons. Love to hear what you’re diggin on.
With the reason for the season (bourbon and presents, duh) quickly descending upon us, I’d like to take a moment to address the Women of Pre-Christmas. You know those women. You were likely birthed by one and are currently married to another. Maybe, like me, you count yourself among our ranks. We stand as the doers of the holiday season. We make sure our Pintrest boards are updated with all of the rustic, yet festive decor our brains can stand. We judge people who are just now starting to shop for gifts (don’t they have a Zulily account?). The baking…
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This short Thanksgiving Day devotion comes to us from Paul Walker:
Virginians, being Virginians, like to claim that the first Thanksgiving took place not at Plymouth Rock, but at Berkley Plantation in Virginia in 1619. The ships that arrived from England had a charter that required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a “day of thanksgiving” to God.
“We ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.” So, on that first day…
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We are so proud and excited to announce the release of a brand-new Mockingbird publication, Paul Zahl’s first book in seven years, PZ’s Panopticon: An Off-the-Wall Guide to World Religion! Entertaining, page-turning, and quirky almost beyond words, the Panopticon mines fresh territory without ever losing sight of the “heart of the matter”, providing a remarkably fresh survey of the world’s most captivating answers to the question of being human. It is unlike anything you’ve ever read (in the best possible way), a true cult classic in the making, both Dr. Zahl’s funniest and most personal piece of work to date. We’ll run some previews in the coming weeks but for now, enjoy the blurb on the back cover, which reads as follows:
Imagine you have ten minutes to live. You’re in a near-death situation, like the patient who’s being operated on and suddenly finds himself looking down on the action as the doctors try to save his life.
What do you need to know when your life’s end is near? What is there to know? What can this religion or that religion say to you when you really need some light? Maybe nothing, for sure. But maybe something, possibly.
PZ’s Panopticon weighs the world’s organized religions, such as Christianity and Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism; but it also weighs “dead” religions like those of the Aztecs, the ancient Egyptians, and the Greeks and Romans. There are also religions that are not called religions, like money and fame and sex; family and children; ideology and power.
PZ’s Panopticon is a wild ride. But it’s part of a trip we’re all going to take.
P.S. The Panopticon is only the first of two PZ-related projects that are hitting shelves this month. Stay tuned for an announcement next week about the long-awaited Comfortable Words: Essays in Honor of Paul F.M. Zahl.
I remember visiting my brother in Memphis during basketball season in 2008: Derrick Rose was the talk of the town. With a 6-foot-4 frame, Rose was slightly taller than most of the point guards he went up against and could jump higher and run faster. Rose came out Simeon High School in Chicago, a hotbed for freakishly athletic ball players–Rose was certainly no exception. After a phenomenal freshman year at Memphis, Rose was the first overall pick in the NBA draft the following year.
If you remember, in our NBA Season Preview of sorts, Derrick Rose’s return to the NBA–after sitting out…
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