1. First off, an irresistible little bit of nepotism – forgive me. Yesterday The Internet Monk posted a glowing and heartfelt reflection on a Communion service he attended at the heavily Mbird-connected Church of The Holy Cross on Sullivans Island, SC. Little known fact: the preacher in question – responsible on this site for Bringing You The Gospel – proposed to his wife in Transylvania. Yes, that Transylvania. Then there’s the beautiful (in more ways than one) piece over at mardecortesbaja on The Mystery Of Flowers.

2. A couple of our favorite “wild stallions” recently joined the ranks of Pirate Christian Radio with a new show called “Two Words”. The show explores the ramifications of Law/Gospel theology in a proudly unbridled(!) and provocative fashion, and airs every Friday. It may not be a Mockingbird production, but you’ll certainly recognize some of our favorite themes and topics. Well done, guys! Go here to listen and please, be excellent to each other.

3. While we’re at it, the Resources section of our website has been significantly updated. Ten new sermons and a detailed update/explanation of Mockingbird’s financial situation, among other things. Keep an eye out next week for the outlines of this past summer’s “Good News For People With Big Problems” talk series.

4. Be sure to read the fantastic cover article that Mark Galli wrote for this month’s Christianity Today, “In The Beginning, Grace”. It’s a long one, but it’s packed with the sort of insight, humility and cutting analysis of contemporary Evangelicalism that we’ve come to expect from Galli. One of my favorite portions from the conclusion reads:

“The first thing to do when we confront the dysfunctional horizontal, then, is not to address it as a horizontal problem. That would be to deny the word of the Cross; it would be to pretend that we can, of our own wisdom and strength, attend successfully to the problem. The Word of God says the way to start working on the horizontal is to look up, in particular, at the one hanging on the Cross. The place to begin is not more feverish doing but a type of non-doing, acknowledging the complete inadequacy of any doing and the utter powerlessness of the horizontal to fix the horizontal. It means to allow oneself to be borne up by the Word of grace.”

5. Love him or hate him (I myself am closer to the latter category than the former), but this little article in NY Magazine called “Michael Moore, Bible Thumper” still came as a surprise. In reference to his new “documentary” Capitalism: A Love Story, they write:

“The film is actually a veiled religious tract. What Moore has done with his current cinematic manifesto is to tell the Book of Revelation through an account of the recent financial crisis.”

“Many of the talking heads in the film are Catholic clergy, including the bishop of Detroit, who proclaim capitalism to be a “sin” and “radically evil.” “Eventually,” one prophesies, “God will come down and eradicate it.” The blunt moral power of Moore’s work has always derived from a very Catholic idea of sin. But in the current film, the salvation narrative is less veiled.

6. In other theologically-related movie news, The Coen Brothers new film A Serious Man opens this week, a modern day Book of Job. In his review for the NY Times (cleverly titled “Calls To God: Always a Buzy Signal”), A.O. Scott writes,

The story is at once hilarious and horrific, its significance both self-evident and opaque. The same could be said of most of the Coen brothers’ movies, in which human existence and the attempt to find meaning in it are equally futile, if also sometimes a lot of fun. (For us, at least.) Their insistence on the fundamental absence of a controlling order in the universe is matched among American filmmakers only by Woody Allen. The crucial difference is that the Coens are compulsive, rigorous formalists, as if they were trying in the same gesture to expose, and compensate for, the meaninglessness of life.

So a question put before the congregation by “A Serious Man” is whether it makes the case for atheism or looks at the world from a divine point of view. Are the Coens mocking God, playing God or taking his side in a rigged cosmic game? What’s the difference?

7. Finally, on Wednesday the NY Times published an account of the checkered history of the Palestinian Sesame Street entitled “Can The Muppets Make Friends In Ramallah?”. Required reading for anyone interested in the conflict (or The Muppets for that matter – ht Kyra Shapurji).