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The New Gnosticism of the Transhumanists

The New Gnosticism of the Transhumanists

For the (very very quickly) upcoming Love & Death Issue, I had the chance to interview the journalist, Mark O’Connell, who is the author most recently of To Be A Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death. He also wrote that amazing...

Turn the Page (Already): In Defense of Bob Seger

Turn the Page (Already): In Defense of Bob Seger

One never really needs a reason to write about Bob Seger, but if you are the sort of person who requires one, take the recent Gaslight Anthem record, Handwritten, which made a lot of critics’ year-end lists, including our own. People have described that band as splitting the difference between...

Party of Five and the God of Party Poopers

Party of Five and the God of Party Poopers

When life gets tough, I like to watch other people’s lives get tougher. In Germany or Avenue Q, this is called shadenfreude; in America, this is called haphazardly engaging in political discourse on social media, or watching just about any popular TV drama. Forgoing the Covfefe hoo-ha, I recently committed...

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Five Verse Four

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Five Verse Four

This morning’s devotion was written by Mary Zahl. 

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4, ASV)

Again and again, I have been struck by Christians using the language of faith to ward off the presence of pain. It’s understandable—pain is painful. All of us want to avoid it as...

Wendell Berry's World-Ending Fire of Original Sin

Wendell Berry’s World-Ending Fire of Original Sin

A few days ago, I happened across the round-table discussion with Wendell Berry, Paul Kingsnorth (author of the forthcoming Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist), and economist Kate Raworth on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week hosted by Andrew Marr. The conversation, from this past May, centered around problems associated with the environmental...

Working For Dad

Working For Dad

Just in time for Father’s Day, this one was written by Julian Brooks.

My first summer home from Bible College left me with four months to get to work and save some money for the year’s upcoming tuition. Thankfully I had a job lined up and a place to stay that...

Rest for the Betty Draper in Me

Rest for the Betty Draper in Me

In my dreams, I can breathe underwater. In my anxiety-crippled reality, I just discovered that a thing called secondary drowning exists. Yay! NEW WAYS (FOR MY KIDS) TO DIE THAT I HADN’T HEARD OF BEFORE.

We’ve been in Sydney nearly six months and there are countless “favourites” among our crew: the...

Announcing The Very Persistent Pirate, Mockingbird's First Children's Book!

Announcing The Very Persistent Pirate, Mockingbird’s First Children’s Book!

We are very excited to announce Mockingbird’s first children’s book, The Very Persistent Pirate, a swashbuckling tale of good news for sinners and saints ages 3-8.

When most children are drifting to sleep, one kid and his monkey are drifting at sea. One day, they spy a treasure that is not theirs…

Over the course of 34 beautifully illustrated pages, The Very Persistent Pirate winds...

Latest entries

Another Week Ends: The Big Sick, The Bigger Sick, Hard Drive Malfunctions, Us-Them Problems, "Psychological Safety" and Creative Relaxation

Another Week Ends: The Big Sick, The Bigger Sick, Hard Drive Malfunctions, Us-Them Problems, “Psychological Safety” and Creative Relaxation

1. Another week ends, another writer gets fed up with positive thinking. This one was written by Freddie deBoer, a writer and teacher who just moved to New York and become acquainted with the writer scene there. This new world is as meritocratic and ambitious as he once suspected it was. As he says, “There’s a series of mini-Hollywoods that are tiny and meaningless to the wider world but which are tracked as obsessively as real Hollywood is by the tabloid press, by the people inside them. I never had this problem in Indiana.”

But what’s exceptional about this piece, entitled,…

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The "Centre Point" of Paradox

The “Centre Point” of Paradox

I suffer from what psychologytoday.com calls ‘polarized thinking’ (self-diagnosed). This is a way of seeing the world in ‘either/or’ terms. When I judge something — which happens, let’s face it, all the time — it’s either this or that, good or bad, right or wrong. It’s not some of this and some of that — and certainly not all of both. Though it often means being harsh to myself and others, thinking in a polarized way helps me simplify the more complex aspects of the world, while staying comfortably seated in my judge’s chambers.

For example: if I hit a green…

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Wonder Woman and the Side Effects of Losing Innocence

Wonder Woman and the Side Effects of Losing Innocence

This review of the new Wonder Woman comes to us from Caleb Ackley. 

Typically when I hear the words ‘summer’ and ‘blockbuster’ uttered in the same sentence, a shudder runs down my spine. Forehead wet with anxiety-induced sweat, I try with every ounce of strength I possess to keep from imagining the latest franchise subjected to the dreaded ‘reboot’ or, worse still, the newest installment in an ever-widening and ever more deafening Transformers universe. This summer, however, thanks to a certain female superhero, change was in the air, and when that fateful weekend in June finally came, I ran to the…

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A Long Strange Trip through Death to Life

A Long Strange Trip through Death to Life

This was written by Deadhead, Luke Roland. 

The highly anticipated documentary on The Grateful Dead, Long Strange Trip, is now on Amazon Prime.  I have previously written about the effect that the music of The Grateful Dead has had on me for Mockingbird, and in light of the documentary I thought it would be a great time to revisit them in a Mockingbirdian context.  

The Grateful Dead have had a positive influence on American culture, and continue to do so. They could be the most important American band in our history. I realize that is a tall statement, but think about…

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Gregory Boyle’s Touchstone Image of God

Another great excerpt from Gregory Boyle’s Tattoos on the Heart, about the Jesuit priest’s twenty years as director of Homeboy Industries in LA. Seriously, if we wouldn’t get in trouble for copying the entire book on the site, we’d do it.

God can get tiny, if we’re not careful. I’m certain we all have an image of God that becomes the touchstone, the controlling principle, to which we return when we stray.

My touchstone image of God comes by way of my friend and spiritual director, Bill Cain, S.J. Years ago, he took a break from his own ministry to care for his father as he died of cancer. His father had become a frail man, dependent on Bill to do everything for him. Though he was physically not what he had been, and the disease was wasting him away, his mind remained alert and lively. In the role reversal common to adult children who care for their dying parents, Bill would put his father to bed and then read him to sleep, exactly as his father had done for him in childhood. Bill would read from some novel, and his father would lie there, staring at his son, smiling. Bill was exhausted from the day’s care and work and would plead with his dad, “Look, here’s the idea. I read to you. You fall asleep.” Bill’s father would impishly apologize and dutifully close his eyes. But this wouldn’t last long. Soon enough, Bill’s father would pop one eye open and smile at his son. Bill would catch him and whine, “Now, come on.” The father would, again, oblige, until he couldn’t anymore, and the other eye would open to catch a glimpse of his son. This went on and on, and after his father’s death, Bill that this evening ritual was really a story of a father who just couldn’t take his eyes off his kid. How much more so God? Anthony De Mello writes, “Behold the One beholding you, and smiling.”…What’s true of Jesus is true for us, and so this voice breaks through the clouds and comes straight at us. “You are my Beloved, in whom I am wonderfully pleased.” There is not much “tiny” in that.

“Behold the One beholding you and smiling.” It is precisely because we have such an overactive disapproval gland ourselves that we tend to create God in our own image. It is truly hard for us to see the truth that disapproval does not seem to be part of God’s DNA. God is just too busy loving us to have any time left for disappointment.

Acceptance is the Difference Between Evaluation and Condemnation

Acceptance is the Difference Between Evaluation and Condemnation

This passage comes to us from John Jacob Raub’s 1992 book, Who Told You That You Were Naked: Freedom from Judgment, Guilt and Fear of Punishment. Raub is a Trappist Monk from the Abbey of Gethsemani, the abbey Thomas Merton called home. The book, so far, is a deep dive into the helpful waters of psychological Christianity, and his distinction between evaluation and condemnation has been particularly helpful:

Jesus said, “Do not judge” (Mt 7:1), but just what type of judging was he prohibiting? Certainly we are to make practical judgments. We judge to say “this” rather than “that,” “do this,”…

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Telling Stories to the Devil: From Healing the Mind Through the Power of Story

Telling Stories to the Devil: From Healing the Mind Through the Power of Story

This is an incredible excerpt, albeit completely unorthodox. It comes from a short section entitled, “Saying Goodbye to Satan,” in Lewis Mehl-Madrona’s book, Healing the Mind Through the Power of Story: The Promise of Narrative Psychiatry.

As you read, note the utter left-handedness in Mehl-Madrona’s approach: he allows the patient to tell her story and enters that story with her, totally devoid of judgment or correction. This example of narrative psychiatry in real-life shows, first of all, that the stories we tell ourselves can be damning; second, that denying those stories won’t restore us to sanity. Instead, acceptance (and more importantly:…

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Old Ways and New Ways in Master of None Season 2

Old Ways and New Ways in Master of None Season 2

Bust out the Italo and pull out your pasta makers! Aziz Ansari’s Netflix project Master of None is back for season two, exploring the difficulties of love and relationships in 2017. The show continues with storytelling inspired by Aziz’s Modern Romance research project, a book we loved so much that we invited co-author Eric Klinenberg to #MbirdNYC16. Sadly, book deals prevented us from sharing the recording, so just trust me when I report that it was one of the best (funniest? most poignant?) talks at an Mbird gathering from someone “outside” the fold.

Season one, united by the theme of “fear…

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Love of Children and Fear of the World

Love of Children and Fear of the World

Stephen Marche’s The Unmade Bed is the book I cannot stop recommending. He talks about the state of modern marriage with unflinching clarity. And in a bold literary move, his wife provides footnotes. It is like being at a dinner party with the funny, poignant couple who occasionally correct one another’s stories.

From a theological perspective, the book serves as the perfect, secular counterbalance to Robert Farrar Capon’s Bed and Board. In Capon’s era, it was women who made the bed, but in Marche’s modern take we learn that bed-making is an activity we all long to avoid. Seriously,…

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Architect: Fellow and Failing ~ Duo Dickinson

Another one from the conference! This talk certainly won the “shock factor” award. From the one and only Duo Dickinson.

Architect: Fellow and Failing ~ Duo Dickinson from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Jesus Christ the Pelican Mother

Here at Mbird HQ, sometimes you get an advance copy of a book from a publisher and you’re not exactly thrilled about opening it. This one, though, is an exception. It is a prayer book from the days of Shakespeare, written by layman (and playwright) Thomas Dekker. The book is divided into four parts, each part a “bird,” or form of prayer, flying from Noah’s Ark. The notion of the Ark as the human body/experience is a powerful one. This is Dekker’s introduction to his third bird, The Pelican. You can pre-order the book here.

The third bird that I call out of Noah’s ark is the Pelican. The nature of the Pelican is to peck her own bosom and with the drops of her blood to feed her young ones. Christ, the Son of God, is the Pelican whose blood was shed to feed us. The physician made a medicine of his own body to cure us. Look upon him well, and behold his wounds bleeding, his head bowed down (as if to kiss us), his very sides opened (as if to show how his heart loved us), his arms stretched out to their length (as if to embrace us). And judge by all these if Christ be not our truest Pelican.

He who was King of Heaven and Earth suffered his brow to wear a crown of thorns. He received wounds that are our health. He tasted the bitterness of death that is our salvation—what Pelican can do more for her young ones?

Our souls were spotted: Sin had pawned them, sin had lost them, sin had made them foul. All the medicine in the world could not purge our corruption, all the fountains in the world could not wash our spots, all the gold and silver on earth could not redeem our forfeitures, all the kings under heaven could not pay our ransoms. Nothing could free us from captivity but to make Christ a prisoner. Nothing could give us life but the heavenly Pelican’s death.

Seeking Freedom from Dieting and Body Shame: Part One

Seeking Freedom from Dieting and Body Shame: Part One

During the first call with my new health coach, she told me to stop weighing myself. I agreed to cease this action and hid our scale next to my hair dryer and a pack of cotton balls in a bathroom cabinet. That lasted three days. The scale is now back on the black-and-white ceramic tile floor beside my bathtub, and I step on it every morning after I wake up. Some days I weigh myself multiple times. Don’t tell my health coach.

I have operated with a diet mentality for thirty years. As a serious classical ballet dancer during my teens,…

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