Unless it has been replaced, the men’s room mirror at Manning’s Cafe in Minneapolis is a little worse for wear. Not broken, but scratched and pitted, and midway across the bottom the words are indelibly scrawled, “Forgive Yourself.” No telling who wrote it or how long ago, even less what they meant. Was it...
Another Week Ends: Turklean Empathy, OK GO, The Cursed Child, Religious Skepticism, Couples Fooling Themselves, and Hail, Caesar!
Sherry Turkle, at it again, people. In The New York Review of Books, Jacob Weisberg samples a troop of tech-related books released this year, one of which is Sherry Turkle’s new one, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. Turkle, who we’ve talked about quite a bit on Mockingbird, is an MIT clinician and an ethnographer, and has focused her expertise in the last two books on the rise of technological dependence, and its implications on human relationships and identity. (For the record, two…
The bad news is, we have to wait until July before we can hold Heather Havrileksy’s How to Be a Person in the World in our sweaty hands. The good news is, the Ask Polly columnist wrote an article for The Cut this week about “What Romance Really Means After 10 Years of Marriage”, which easily tops the list of this year’s Valentines-related reading. In prime fashion, Heather debunks a few of our culture’s most destructive illusions about long-term romantic relationships (short of the Soulmate Myth). But it’s not just for married folks. It’s for all of us who’ve ever…
Some Lenten wisdom from the boss, via the Prodigal son chapter in Kingdom, Grace and Judgment:
“Confession has nothing to do with getting ourselves forgiven. Confession is not a transaction, not a negotiation in order to secure forgiveness; it is the after-the-last grasp of a corpse that finally can afford to admit it’s dead and accept resurrection. Forgiveness surrounds us, beats upon us all our lives; we confess only to wake ourselves up to what we already have… We are not forgiven, therefore, because we made ourselves forgivable or even because we had faith; we are forgiven solely because there is a Forgiver.”
RFC’s Between Noon and Three contains a pretty amazing zinger on the same subject: “Confession is not the first step on the road to recovery; it is the last step in the displaying of a corpse.”
I am an Episcopal priest. I’m married to an Episcopal priest. I see politics as a “please don’t show me yours because I’m not going to show you mine” scenario. You want to talk about grace? I’m all ears. You want to talk about debt reduction? Talk to someone who went to Business School Yale. Not Divinity School. I am not here to advocate for a particular candidate.
That said, let’s talk about Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton. Or more specifically, let’s talk about Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright. Ladies, you don’t have to go home, but you have to stop trash-talking young…
He’s right! Those who accept losing often continue to lose. Raise your hand: Did you lose today? Yesterday? 5 minutes ago? All of us who have tried and failed to be good spouses, parents, employees, offspring, students, football players, etc. know full well. We lose. We do. We all have lost and will continue to lose somewhere. And our attitude about it doesn’t change the fact. Cam Newton couldn’t have said it better. People who become fully aware of their depravity and shortcomings and admit it out loud (and began to accept that they are broken people in a broken world)…
It turns out that Ash Wednesday has inspired some of our favorite posts over the years–a bit ironic/hypocritical, given that the day doesn’t exactly encourage human pride. Nevertheless, in the spirit of Christian freedom, here’s a compilation of sorts to kick-start our observance of Lent together.
Anonymous posts, wrestling with the link between Ash Wednesday and the lack of rest:
- Sleeping on Mortality: An Ash Wednesday Reflection
- God Bless the Insomniacs: Searching for Rest on Ash Wednesday
- Possibly Insane Thoughts on Ash Wednesday (Written on the Occasion of a Sleepless Night)
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:1)
Reflecting on Ash Wednesday itself:
- A Sermon for Ash Wednesday
- What Would Jesus Do for Lent
- Why Ash Wednesday is Nadia Bolz Weber’s favorite day in the church year
- Burning Palm Sunday: An Ash Wednesday Reflection
- From the Magazine: Dying to Live
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matt. 6:16-18)
Ash Wednesday and Culture:
- Ash Wednesday – Elvis Perkins
- Burnt Norton, the Four Quartets, and Ash Wednesday – T.S. Eliot
- Law and Gospel (and Lent) according to Chocolat
- Bringing You The Gospel (Pt. 42) #AshTag
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. (1 Cor 9:22)
A pair of Ash Wednesday sermons (audio only):
From her collection Instead of Sadness:
The fat candle in the kitchen window burns down
like a rose spilling open. We light a scrap of paper
from the flame, and with the ashes, a little olive oil,
cross each other’s foreheads. Margo’s in the hospital
again. I stop to see her on my way to school,
go straight from there to class. My students have come
from their night shifts at the nursing home
and Wal-Mart, from Mass, from dropping off the baby
at daycare. They shuffle pages, share staplers.
We look into each other’s faces as they hand me their essays.
Who knows how long we’ve got inside these dusty skins.
We’re burning down together, ashes mingling already.
Welcome to the third installment of act two of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem but your own. If you missed one or more of the previous installments, you can find them here.
In Act One of this greed epic, we determined that as a culture we cannot define the term and, although we’re quick to see greed in others, we refuse to see it in ourselves.
In Act Two we’re examining why we cannot define and admit to greed. Last time we discovered that, right or wrong, in our society money is a proxy for intelligence, so accumulating lots of it can’t…
Charlie Kaufman’s newest film, Anomalisa, is not for everyone. I don’t mean that in an exclusive, some “get” it and others don’t, kind of way. I mean that the the film is a very real (ironic considering it consists entirely of stop-motion animation) depiction of the dislocation and alienation that pervades modern existence, and I predict that even the most optimistic among us will leave the the theater with his 32 oz. cup of Cherry Coke half empty. But wait! Kaufman’s bleak and banal picture of reality may be difficult to watch, but for those willing to endure the dark…
Slightly updated for context:
Living in a “swing battleground state” (VA), I get the privilege of witnessing the escalation of hostilities from a front row seat every election season. And escalate they do! From the ads on TV to the volunteers at the door, the signs on the street to the telemarketers on the phone, it’ll be hard to hide come November. Last time around, apparently even Walking Dead viewers were on the fence (Arrow viewers, not so much).
There’s obviously an important place in a presidential race for indignation and culpability, anger and blame, etc. The permanence of the logs in…
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (“Iz”) unwittingly provided future listeners a clue to something deeper at the beginning of his signature song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.” Soon after he arrived at the studio–at 4 a.m., possibly high–he sat on a steel chair and said “This one’s for Gabby” before strumming and gifting future generations with his sweet, somewhat haunting “Oooo” intonations.
Gabby here refers to Gabby Pahinui, a childhood friend of Iz and one of the fathers (both as a solo artist and as a founding member of the Sons of Hawai’i) of the Hawaiian Renaissance. The latter movement was most…
In light of this past Sunday’s reading, this morning’s devotion is a poem by Mark Jarman, entitled “Transfiguration.” These are the last three parts of the poem.
And there appeared to them Elijah and Moses and they were talking to Jesus.
…They were talking to him about law and how lawgiving should be
Like rainfall, a light rain falling all morning and mixing with dew–
A rain that passes through the spiderweb and penetrates the dirt clod
Without melting it, a persistent, suffusing shower, soaking clothes,
Making sweatshirts heavier, wool stink, and finding every hair’s root on the scalp.
And that is when you hurled judgment into the crowd and watched them
Spook like cattle, reached in and stirred the turmoil faster, scarier.
And they were saying that; to save the best, many must be punished,
Including the best. And no one was exempt, as they explained it,
Not themselves, not him, or anyone he loved, anyone who loved him.
Take anyone and plant a change inside them that they feel
And send them to an authority to assess that feeling. When they are told
That for them alone these waits a suffering in accordance with the laws
Of their condition, from which they may recover or may not,
Then they know the vortex on the mountaintop, the inside of the unspeakable,
The speechlessness before the voices begin talking to them,
Talking to prepare them, arm them and disarm them, until the end.
And if anybody’s looking, they will seem transfigured.
I want to believe that he talked back to them, his radiant companions,
And I want to believe he said too much was being asked and too much promised.
I want to believe that that was why he shone in the eyes of his friends,
The witnesses looking on, because he spoke for them, because he loved them
And was embarrassed to learn how he and they were going to suffer.
I want to believe he resisted at that moment, when he appeared glorified,
Because he could not reconcile the contradictions and suspected
That love had a finite span and was merely the comfort of the lost.
I know he must have acceded to his duty, but I want to believe
He was transfigured by resistance, as he listened, and they talked.