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

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    The Ash Wednesday Hit-Parade

    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.

    Mad-Max-Fury-Road-final-trailer

    Anonymous posts, wrestling with the link between Ash Wednesday and the lack of rest:

    “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:

    B-MVa1-CcAE8JFg“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:

    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):

    Hockey Rocky: Imputation and All-Star John Scott

    Hockey Rocky: Imputation and All-Star John Scott

    A doozie of a story from the wild world of sports last Sunday as John Scott took the ice in NHL hockey’s 2016 All-Star game. To bring you up to speed, the trixy hobbits of the internet got involved with the sport’s All-Star voting this year, where top voted hockey players would be sent to the annual best-of-the-best event. Like the NFL’s pro-bowl, it’s more of an honor to be invited than to play, or more of a PR exhibition than a competition. Taking advantage of the online voting, a legion of hockey fans and internet trolls found the remarkably…

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    Serial Season 2 and the Second Prodigal Son

    Serial Season 2 and the Second Prodigal Son

    While ancient near east history lessons may add layers to the text, the basic story of the Prodigal Son– a father’s love for his two wayward sons- is easily accessible across millennia. The heartwarming first half of the parable, with the angry runaway’s return to his unexpectedly gentle father, transcends time. Who has ever lived and not longed for a paternal love like that?

    And yet, the beloved first half of the parable is a setup for the second half’s word of judgment. The father’s grace divides the family, and as the party for the returned runaway kicks into high gear,…

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    And Auld Lang Syne… 10 Stories We Missed in 2015

    And Auld Lang Syne… 10 Stories We Missed in 2015

    Even with new books, new issues of the magazine, a growing contributor list, and a new podcast, we still miss law/gospel tidbits here and there.  While our social media connections send us links all the time, they deserve a special thanks for helping compile this list of stories we missed in 2015:

    10) While we kept up with most of 2015’s entertainment news, it just goes to show you how irrelevant we are for not mentioning Zayn Malik’s departure from boy band sensation One Direction. You probably know all about it if there’s a pre-teen girl in your life. After four years of global stardom,…

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    Never Tell Me the Odds: Growing Up with Star Wars and The Force Awakens (NO SPOILERS)

    Never Tell Me the Odds: Growing Up with Star Wars and The Force Awakens (NO SPOILERS)

    The new Star Wars movie hits tonight. It’s giving me the shakes.

    Two years ago, I shared this post with Mockingbird readers as Disney announced the J.J. Abrams helmed Star Wars VII. Can you believe it? Some have been waiting for this movie release for 30+ years and the countdown is almost over. Tonight, at 7pm, we’ll know whether or not to have a “new hope” in this latest franchise reboot.

    I won’t speak for you, but it’s been a hard two years for me, and not because of the long wait. We’ve all suffered the endless think pieces and hot takes about how…

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    The Devil Made Her Do It: Culpability and Pardon in Jessica Jones

    The Devil Made Her Do It: Culpability and Pardon in Jessica Jones

    Another fiscal quarter, another Marvel property hits the airwaves. Not that that’s a bad thing–I quite enjoy the Cinematic Universe, especially as it embraces the less heroic side of comic book lore. Daredevil, Ant-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy are favorites from the recent past, and so a Thanksgiving binge with Jessica Jones was an easy choice. Thirteen episodes later, and my wife and I were impressed: the show is well written, with stellar performances from Kristen Ritter (Jessie Pinkman’s girlfriend in Breaking Bad) as titular character and David Tennant (Broadchurch, Dr. Who) as the show’s supervillain. To get the pun…

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    Don’t Miss Out on Master of None

    Don’t Miss Out on Master of None

    It’s been fun to keep up with Aziz Ansari since his turn as Tom Haverford in Parks and Rec. From stand up specials to pop-sociology books, his star has certainly been on the rise these past few years. Aziz’s latest project, the Netflix comedy Master of None, showcases not just Aziz the actor, but Aziz the storyteller and Aziz the cultural critic. TV critics are generally in agreement: Master of None is really good. Like, awards season good. Like, best show on TV this year good.

    The show follows Dev, a loosely autobiographical Aziz, as he navigates life and love in…

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    The Areopagus and The Woodshed: Re-imagining Abuse in Social Media

    The Areopagus and The Woodshed: Re-imagining Abuse in Social Media

    In the world of social media, Twitter’s hard times have caused much hand wringing and head scratching. Once hailed as a global marketplace for the exchange of ideas, a modern Areopagus of sorts, the social network has seen its growth achieving ever flattening levels of stagnation. And as resident social media watchman, I’m beginning to see some of these patterns affect the Mockingbird twitterverse as well.

    So when we received this essay in the email about Twitter’s struggles and realistic anthropology (ht. GP), the light bulbs clicked on. Umair Haque gives a thoughtful, if somewhat emotional, critique about the nature of…

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    Hikikomori and a Global Word of Grace

    Hikikomori and a Global Word of Grace

    Back in 2013, we mentioned a disturbing cultural trend in Japan in one of our weekenders, where culturally disenfranchised youth become shut-ins. The official Japanese word for these shut-ins is Hikikomori- and while examples of this have been observed in other places around the world (including Italy, the US, and South Korea), in Japan, the trend has become a cultural phenomenon. For a multitude of reasons, Hikikomori give up on human interaction, choosing to cloister themselves away from the world rather than interact in it.

    The Hikikomori phenomenon is worth bringing up again because new studies suggest that as much as…

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    Another Week Ends: New Notes from Luther, Coach Chandler, Mr. Wind, and Dad Bod.

    Another Week Ends: New Notes from Luther, Coach Chandler, Mr. Wind, and Dad Bod.

    1. Stop the presses! Sit down if you’re standing! Pull over if you’re driving!  The BBC is reporting that a first edition of Martin Luther’s seminal essay On the Freedom of a Christian has been discovered in a library in France, with margin notes from the author himself on changes he intended to make for the second edition. Wild! What I wouldn’t give for access to that manuscript (and the requisite knowledge of late-medieval German)! Not only is this new potential insight into Martin Luther’s early Reformation mind, but the essay in question is one of Luther’s classics that drew many of…

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    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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    Clothes Make the Man: Thoughts on NYT’s Men’s Style

    Clothes Make the Man: Thoughts on NYT’s Men’s Style

    Earlier this month, the New York Times debuted a new print section in their newspaper- the first new print section of the paper in a decade- and that new section is dedicated to Men’s Style. It says a lot that one of the great media companies in history would decide in 2015 to invest ink and paper in any subject matter. Even if the section insert is only once a month, if the New York Times is getting into men’s fashion, perhaps we should be turning our attention there as well. Says Men’s Style editor Jim Windolf:

    Today The Times unveils Men’s…

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