About Bryan J.

Be of good cheer, little pup, for thou too in resurrection shall have a little golden tail. ~Martin Luther @revdeaconb

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    Idols of Nostalgia and the Downfall of Doc Huxtable

    Idols of Nostalgia and the Downfall of Doc Huxtable

    It’s hard to cross the Internet these days without reading an update on Bill Cosby’s falling star. As of this writing, a planned NBC comeback sitcom has been cancelled, and other new initiatives (like an ill-conceived social media meme push) have been met with anger and sarcasm. Perhaps most salient: TV Land has quietly stopped airing reruns of The Cosby Show, the sitcom that rocketed Bill Cosby to the national spotlight in the 80s. I missed the golden years of Dr. Huxtable and clan on The Cosby Show, so I’ve been discovering in tandem the tremendous legacy of hope that was Cosby’s acting work…

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    A Conference Week Ends: Lila, Marshmallows, the Human Condition, and Epistomological Courage

    A Conference Week Ends: Lila, Marshmallows, the Human Condition, and Epistomological Courage

    1. Lots of interesting news on the how-can-we-be-sure-God-exists front. We’ve had our own part of that conversation, highlighting our own favorite Atheists and the hip trend of flogging Dawkins (dibs on Flogging Dawkins as a band name!). If the patterns are to be believed, it seems that the trajectory is toward a more humble, less aggressive atheism that acknowledges its own non-rational presuppositions. And humility is good for everybody, theist and atheist alike. Gary Gutting over at the New York Times sums up his series of interviews with religious philosophers, and while the ending seems disjointed (I’m an agnostic Catholic?), the middle is helpful:

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    The Apple Isn’t the Only Biblical Reference: 50 Years of The Giving Tree

    The Apple Isn’t the Only Biblical Reference: 50 Years of The Giving Tree

    Did you read Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree as a child? Do you remember how it made you feel? The children’s book turns 50 this year, so theoretically, a few generations have had their chance to soak in the bittersweet melancholy of Silverstein’s prose. Acknowledging the anniversary, The Giving Tree was featured in this week’s Bookends column of The New York Times, which invited two contributors to reflect on the book’s history and meaning [ht DJ via Twitter]. That’s no surprise, of course–the book is well loved and continues to be a children’s classic. But what I was shocked to discover (maybe…

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    I Am What I Drink: Identity and Craft Beer

    I Am What I Drink: Identity and Craft Beer

    Long time readers of the blog will know the world of alcohol is one of life’s laboratories where our favorite theological themes are examined. Lord knows we’ve written a book’s worth of material on the subject of alcoholism, addiction, and the wisdom found in the world of recovery. Along with the very real and widespread issue of dependency, the bar scene is another petri dish where some of the most widespread identity-crafting techniques are employed. Chief among the questions of identity: what should I drink, and what will my order say about me.

    For craft beer fans, the question of drink and identity is a…

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    The Courage to Be “Weird”

    The Courage to Be “Weird”

    The internet got a little bit stranger this week with the release of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s newest album, Mandatory Fun. For close to 40 years now, Weird Al has embraced everything counterculture, playfully mocking the earnestness of 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s versions of “cool.” From Michael Jackson to Celine Dion, from Star Wars to the Beverly Hillbillies, there are few pop culture themes and memes that the musical master of parody has left untouched.

    Weird Al predates me. I discovered him as a nerdy elementary schooler at a friend’s sleep-over. All we third and fourth graders howled with laughter,…

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    Misogyny, Works Righteousness, and Nerd Culture

    Misogyny, Works Righteousness, and Nerd Culture

    Another year, another shooting- not to trivialize this heartbreaking matter, of course, but to highlight that the best laid plans have yet to stop the phenomenon. News is continuing to trickle out of UCSB as the school, state, and country return to a place of mourning, and the op-ed sections continue to suggest solutions related to guns or mental health. Churches are returning to their prayers as well with the words “Lord have Mercy” fresh on their minds and hearts.

    The dynamics of this most recent shooting are somewhat unique in that they’ve started an online conversation about nerd culture and…

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    Divine Memory and The Right to Be Forgotten

    Divine Memory and The Right to Be Forgotten

    Whenever I hire my annual student intern, a part of my hiring process is a quick Google search. I’ll be working with this student for the next academic year or so, which is my excuse for scrutinizing the applicant’s web footprint for reasons to hire or not to hire. I’m told that nowadays blind dates operate the same way- a quick Google search is customary to make the date a little less blind. That internet search reveals the good, bad, and ugly: family photos and keg stand photos from college days, angry name calling on twitter and kind birthday wishes…

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    Lifelogging Mediocrity and The Quantified Self

    Lifelogging Mediocrity and The Quantified Self

    They’re calling 2014 “The Year of the Wearable” in the tech world. Love or hate Google glass, it seems as if wearable tech is in the future- if not for us, then perhaps for our kids. Smart watches want to replace your smart phone. Smart wristbands want to track all your steps and exercise movements. Over 100 apps exist to quantify the quality of your sleep. There’s even a tiny camera that you can clip to your shirt pocket that takes photos every five seconds and uploads the photos to your social network of choice. It used to be that…

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    NYC Preview: The Passion of the Childish Gambino: Online Honesty and Instagram Authenticity

    NYC Preview: The Passion of the Childish Gambino: Online Honesty and Instagram Authenticity

    Mockingbird has been around since 2008, and the earliest post we have on the subject of Social Media is 2009, in which we studied the phenomenon of getting busted on Facebook for real-life lies.  In the five years since that post, we certainly haven’t lost our fascination with the subject- it’s been one of our favorite hobbies to put the world’s social life under the microscope and view our favorite themes in action. Facebook users (for 10 years now!) are cultivating identities to be liked instead of being honest. Selfies are the new living room portraits, carefully framed to show the…

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    A Very Merry Viral Christmas: 2013’s Six Best Christmas Vids

    A Very Merry Viral Christmas: 2013’s Six Best Christmas Vids

    Something about the holidays brings out the very best (and worst?) in the creative juices, and this year in particular is inspiring a very creative mix of yule-tide youtube videos to warm the heart on cold winter nights. Here’s my compilation of the 6 theologically noteworthy Christmas videos of the 2013 holiday season (so far!):

    This little ditty out of Chicago makes me chuckle, even if it does feel a little staged. A piano that makes with you music regardless of age, skill, genre, or life situation.

     

    I hope I can check in with this family in a decade to see if…

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    The Odds Star Wars 7 Being Loved Are Approximately 3720:1

    The Odds Star Wars 7 Being Loved Are Approximately 3720:1

    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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    Conan O’Brien’s Gracious Comedy

    Conan O’Brien’s Gracious Comedy

    It’s been a while since we’ve caught up with late night talk show host and comedian Conan O’Brien. Many will remember the drama surrounding his 2010 departure from his dream job: The Tonight Show on NBC. The event prompted some serious reflection and wisdom from Conan about hardship and life– wisdom worth remembering for anyone with upward aspirations.

    Since then, Coco’s been having a blast on cable TV, and he’ll be hosting his current show Conan on TBS till at least 2015, and one of his recent sketches had me laughing out loud in the office while my heart was strangely…

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