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2015 Tyler Conference Recordings: Tangled Up in Grace

2015 Tyler Conference Recordings: Tangled Up in Grace

A Texas-sized thank-you to everyone who helped put on our conference in Tyler last month, especially the fabulous–and ridiculously ecumenical–steering committee, led by the indefatigable Matt Magill. Huge thanks to all the sponsors as well: B3 Ministries, Bethel Bible, Christ Episcopal, Porch Culture Coffee Roasters, and True Vine Brewery, not...

Even With the Smallest of Us

Even With the Smallest of Us

I have two sons. The older one is your quintessential responsible, law-following, parent-pleasing oldest child—a budding Adam Braverman, if you will. The younger son is, well, the opposite; he’s a total scofflaw. My oldest is ready to leave the house ten minutes before it’s time to go; the younger we...

Grace and Mercy in Chicken Fingers: Matt Redmond’s God of the Mundane

Grace and Mercy in Chicken Fingers: Matt Redmond’s God of the Mundane

I recently came across a book that really spoke to me called The God Of The Mundane: Reflections on Ordinary Life for Ordinary People (2012) by Matthew B. Redmond. The thing I like most about the book is it’s pastoral—it really ministered to me as I read it. It’s main thrust is...

Every Single Thing Anne Lamott Knows

Every Single Thing Anne Lamott Knows

Perhaps you’ve seen Anne Lamott’s Facebook post that went viral over the weekend, in which she lists “every single thing she knows” on the eve of her 61st birthday (which turns out to be fifteen things)? If not, do yourself a favor. Filled with characteristic wit and wisdom, not to...

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Another Week Ends: Love and a Meritocracy, Superhuman Humans, Twitter Psalms, Better Call Caravaggio, Trendy Mindfulness, and a DFW Movie

Another Week Ends: Love and a Meritocracy, Superhuman Humans, Twitter Psalms, Better Call Caravaggio, Trendy Mindfulness, and a DFW Movie

Well, try and stop David Brooks from being on the site twice in one week is what I say. While we’ve all agreed in the office that the cover of his new book isn’t nearly as cool as the one before, his column today is nothing short of a Mockingbird centerfold. It is called “Love and Merit” (!) and deals with the pitfalls of classic, well-intentioned parenting—you know, that strings-attached, perfomance-based, conditional variety of love we all try so hard to avoid doling out.

Brooks nails it on the head. It’s not that we try to be that kind of parent…

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Youth Travel Baseball & Running from the Rules to the Communion Table

Youth Travel Baseball & Running from the Rules to the Communion Table

The Youth Travel Baseball season can be pretty grueling. One Spring seven years ago, I coached our son’s 13u (13 year old and under) travel team. We played an 83 game season! There were tournaments with 3 to 5 games every weekend, and countless games during the week. Somehow our son got all his homework done that season.

It was my first season coaching travel ball, and I was putting together a brand new team. Metro-Atlanta is one of the epicenters for travel baseball, so, with all the competition around, a first year team tends to take its lumps until it…

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Judas’ Charitable Enterprise for the Poor

This passage in Georges Bernanos’ The Diary of a Country Priest comes from our hero’s mentor, the Priest of Torcy, who, if a little harsh, stands as a clear-eyed check on our young cleric’s idealism. This is his monologue on Christ’s love for the poor. But for the priest, and for Bernanos, the love for the poor is not some systematic ethic for justice—it is romance. Referring to the story of the widow’s costly perfume “wasted” on Jesus’ feet, the priest speaks (as Christ) to Judas, against his kind of cautionary, penny-wise methods for selling off a poor woman’s nard.

The poor you will always have with you, but me you have not always with you, answered Our Lord. Which amounts to this: don’t let the hour of mercy strike in vain. You’d do far better to cough up that money you stole, at once, instead of trying to get My apostles worked up over your imaginary financial deals in toilet waters, and your charitable enterprises. Moreover you think you’re flattering My notorious weakness for down-and-outs, but you’ve got hold of the wrong end of the stick. I’m not attached to My paupers like an English old maid to lost cats, or to the poor bulls in the Spanish bull-ring. I love Diary_of_a_Country_Priestpoverty with a deep, reasoned, lucid love—as equal loves equal. I love her as a wife who is faithful and fruitful. If the poor man’s right was derived only from strict necessity, your piddling selfishness would soon reduce him to a bare minimum, paid for by unending gratitude and servility. You’ve been holding forth against this woman to-day who has just bathed My feet with very expensive nard, as though My poor people had no right to best scent…The poor you have always with you, just because there will always be the rich, that is to say there will always be hard and grasping men out for power more than possession. These men exist as much among the poor as among the rich, and the scallywag vomiting up his drink in the gutter is perhaps drunk with the very same dreams as Caesar asleep under his purple canopy. Rich and poor alike, you’d do better to look at yourselves in the mirror of want, for poverty is the image of your own fundamental illusion. Poverty is the emptiness in your hearts and in your hands. It is only because your malice is known to Me that I have placed poverty so high, crowned her and taken her as My bride.

Thesis 10 of The Humility Code (and the Scales of the Universe)

Thesis 10 of The Humility Code (and the Scales of the Universe)

As Bryan alluded to in the most recent weekender, David Brooks’ new book The Road to Character hit shelves last week and has been lighting up our social media feeds, as the NY Times columnist tends to do whenever he gets into less topical territory. While the volume itself makes its way to our mailbox, a couple of reviews and write-ups are too tasty not to mention. Brooks has gone on record to state that, “my book is not a religious book. It uses religious categories … and I do that because I think the public square needs to have…

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Bill Fay Asks Who Is the Sender?

What a supremely pleasant surprise to find out that Bill Fay, one of our all-time favorites, has a new record coming out next week, Who Is The Sender? It’s streaming over at NPR as we speak. The tracklisting alone yields several possible future offertories, e.g., “Bring It On Lord”, “A Frail and Broken One”, and the title track, which Bill explains in the press release this way:

What the piano taught [Fay] was how to connect to one of the great joys of his life. “Music gives,” he says. And he is a grateful receiver. But, it makes him wonder, “Who is the sender?” Fay – who after more than five decades writing songs is finally being appreciated as one of our finest living practitioners of the art – asserts that, for him, songs aren’t actually written but found…

The joy and sadness are indeed deep in this material, which Bill describes as “alternative gospel”. Though it clearly stems from his belief, he doesn’t seek to proselytise or convert anybody, but just hopes to share the concerns he puts into the words and the feelings that he receives from the music: “Goodness, beauty, comfort. If something gives in the world, that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Maybe that’s what music wants to do.”

Disembodied Truth Part I: Biblical Science, Creationism, Truth in Love, and Dover Beach

Disembodied Truth Part I: Biblical Science, Creationism, Truth in Love, and Dover Beach

I want to think for a second about the ways we tend to process language in different places. At our conference last weekend, Nadia Bolz-Weber spoke eloquently about how a sermon is a local event, preached to a specific people at a specific time in the contexts of the larger worship service, the community’s makeup, the identity of the pastor, and so on.

To use just one of these vectors, community makeup, a sermon on the prodigal son parable could differ by audience. To an audience of religious burnouts who have committed the obvious sins over and over, a focus on…

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Jamin Warren’s Games for Non-Gamers: A Magazine List

Jamin Warren’s Games for Non-Gamers: A Magazine List

From our Work and Play Issue, this list comes from Jamin Warren, who blew minds at MbirdNYC15 this past Friday. For those who want more Jamin, his gaming festival Two5Six is taking place in May, and the lineup looks pretty unbelievable. He’s also hinted at an Mbird group rate, which if you go here you can redeem.

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, an esteemed, well-respected cultural historian named Johan Huizinga undertook a very strange project given his post. He wanted to understand the nature of play in all of its forms. What Huizinga found and subsequently argued was that…

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Cursed Clusters and Rockstar Fathers: How to Survive a Frazzled, Fragile Education

Cursed Clusters and Rockstar Fathers: How to Survive a Frazzled, Fragile Education

It’s getting to the point where I’d almost rather not draw attention to articles like Frank Bruni’s “Best, Brightest–and Saddest?”. Not just because I wish their subject matter wasn’t as urgent as it is, or that their claims were more groundless, but because the whole thing has become so excruciatingly obvious. As performancism escalates, so too does its fallout, and the affected demographics only seem to be getting younger. Reading about each new upping of the ante feels like watching a massive collision unfold in slow motion, one where we’ve all had our turn at the wheel.

Bruni’s article focuses on the teenage…

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Write-Up of NYC Conference

As we in C’ville continue to recover from what was a truly wonderful weekend–thank you, Cal St. G’s!–we invite you to check out the write-up of the event that just went up over at Liberate. Very gracious. Even the conference magician gets a nod (as well he should).

From The New Yorker

cleanse

A Conference Week Ends: Shame Patient Zero, Moral Bucket Lists, Love & Mercy, and A Theology for Sinners (and Saints)

A Conference Week Ends: Shame Patient Zero, Moral Bucket Lists, Love & Mercy, and A Theology for Sinners (and Saints)

It’s a conference week here at mbird, so expect a lighter posting schedule for the next week or so while the focus shifts to New York City! Say a prayer for our attendees if you have a moment. In the meantime, here’s an extra-long weekender to hold you over:

1. David Brooks returned to his flirtatious ways last Saturday in the New York Times with his “Moral Bucket List,” a preview of coming attractions for his new book, The Road to Character:

Commencement speakers are always telling young people to follow their passions. Be true to yourself. This is a vision of life that begins with…

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“This American Life ” – On Re-purposing Our Monuments of Shame

This American Life ” – On Re-purposing Our Monuments of Shame

There was a great story on NPR’s “This American Life” this week.  Back in 1999, on an annual list of 354 U.S. & Canada Cities, Kankakee, Illinois was voted the worst – number 354. The criterion included crime rate per capita, climate, unemployment rate, etc. When the list came out, David Letterman (a nearby Indiana native) felt some compassion for Kankakee, knowing that they had (like a lot of Mid-West towns at the time) lost a lot of lot key industries in the 90’s, leaving the town a shell of itself.  The last thing he felt that the town needed…

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