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About CJ Green

CJ Green is a staff editor at Mockingbird. His favorite books are for ages 7-12.

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    Ted Bundy and Me: The Slow-Going Power of Love and the Myth of the Psychopath

    Ted Bundy and Me: The Slow-Going Power of Love and the Myth of the Psychopath

    Recently a friend told me I looked like a serial killer but “in a good way.” I said there is no good way to look like a serial killer. He said, “Oh but there is. Remember that one guy…? The one who didn’t look scary at all?” He was referring to Ted Bundy. For the […]

    Another Week Ends: The Book of Life, Tribal Culture, Seasonal Depression, <i>A Wrinkle in Time</i>, Sister Jean's Prayers, David Attenborough's Horror, and Mason Pryor's Second Chance

    Another Week Ends: The Book of Life, Tribal Culture, Seasonal Depression, A Wrinkle in Time, Sister Jean’s Prayers, David Attenborough’s Horror, and Mason Pryor’s Second Chance

    1. Let’s begin with a couple links to Alain de Botton’s (wellspring of a) website, The Book of Life. The first is about the importance of confession. A traditionally Christian practice, confession remains as necessary in 2018 as it ever was (ht JB): …many of us feel like very bad people and have certainly done […]

    Lessons from the Mid-Lent Slump

    Lessons from the Mid-Lent Slump

    This year for Lent, I decided not to get crazy. In the past, especially as a kid, I’d sometimes give up three things at once, candy, my Gameboy, and fun in general. In the absence of those worldly distractions, I’d take up the terribly sanctified tendency of comparing and contrasting my virtue against my brother’s: […]

    Another Week Ends: Kevin Love, Self-Awareness, Addiction and Morality, Super Important Longreads, Fake News, and the City of God

    Another Week Ends: Kevin Love, Self-Awareness, Addiction and Morality, Super Important Longreads, Fake News, and the City of God

    1. Lots to talk about this week! First, a profound confessional from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love, in which he describes the life-changing experience of a panic attack (mid-game!) and the importance of asking for help. “Everyone Is Going Through Something”: Growing up, you figure out really quickly how a boy is supposed to act. […]

    Peace/Love/Elvis: The Death of Ambition, and Also of Denis Johnson

    Peace/Love/Elvis: The Death of Ambition, and Also of Denis Johnson

    It’s hard to say exactly when the plummet of Elvis Presley began. Some say in the late 60s, some say the early 70s. Some might say as early as 1958, when he was drafted into the Army. In any case, there’s no denying the devilish phase of physical and mental deterioration which carried him to […]

    Another Week Ends: Pyeongchang and Pardons, Parrothead Existentialism, Monopoly for Cheaters, Solitude vs. Loneliness, Aunt Lucy's Love, and More <i>Recovery</i>

    Another Week Ends: Pyeongchang and Pardons, Parrothead Existentialism, Monopoly for Cheaters, Solitude vs. Loneliness, Aunt Lucy’s Love, and More Recovery

    1. With the Olympics now underway in Pyeongchang, let’s begin with a powerful piece that looks back at the 1988 Games in Seoul and the deadly attempt, by the Kim Il Sung regime, to prevent them. 115 people were killed at the hands of elite agent, Kim Hyon-hui, a young woman who been “groomed” as a […]

    Something Major Has Gone Wrong Here: Why Alain de Botton Loves the Concept of Original Sin

    A quick excerpt from a recent interview with School of Life founder Alain de Botton in the current Believer. Here, de Botton defends the concept of original sin as the starting point for functional relationships:

    BLVR: Did you grow up atheist?

    ADB: I grew up totally atheist… Christians were a naive lot who had sort of fallen for Jesus. They were sentimental, they were too emotional… It was all very tribal and just ridiculous in a way. But that was the ideology I grew up with. And now I’m very interested in Christian vulnerability, the taboo. So I spend quite a lot of time discussing that, you know… I love the concept of original sin, the idea that we’re all fundamentally broken and fundamentally incomplete. 

    BLVR: Why do you love that idea?

    ADB: Because it seems to be such a useful starting point. You know, if you imagine a relationship in which two people think they’re great—you know, perfect—that’s going to lead to intolerance and terrible disappointment when they realize that they’re not great, they’re not perfect. Whereas imagine a relationship that begins under the idea that two people are quite broken and therefore they need forgiveness from the other and they need to apply charity to the other and they need to forgive the other, and so that seems a much better starting point. I like these descriptions of human beings as being really quite flawed and crazy and out of control and you find that in Buddhism and Judaism and Christianity. The human being is presented as a very fragile, sort of broken creature. And I like that. It’s a good starting point and also it feels true to my experience.

    BLVR: How are you defining broken?

    ADB: By broken I mean “not quite right.” And that could mean so many different things but it could mean “with a great tendency to anxiety,” say, or “with a great tendency toward despair,” say, or “with a tendency to panic.” Any of these fundamental dispositions toward low self-esteem or whatever it is; many of us have a background of ways in which we’re not quite right.

    BLVR: That’s all of us.

    ADB: Yes, all of us. So that’s why the concept of original sin seems so plausible and applicable and also kind, because it basically says, Look, when you meet someone new, don’t just look for the positives; just assume that something major has gone wrong here. Treat everybody you meet as though they were laboring under some really big problem, basically. That’s the starting point of any encounter. Rather than how great are they, it’s more like, OK, where’s the broken bit of them? That’s a much kinder and more interesting way of getting to know someone. And also to say, That’s the bit of you I’m actually interested in. Like, I don’t really want to hear—that’s fantastic that you’ve been promoted, and you know that’s great, but, like, I don’t think that’s where your real self is.

    Kinda reminds me of a line from Grace in Practice“Once the grievous nuance and unplumbable depth of the psyche were named, the power of the absolution could rise to the occasion. Once the total depravity of original sin was out of the closet, then the magnificent response latent within the grace of God in the cross of Christ could be portrayed. It could be displayed for people to see.”

    Step Back From That Ledge? Outdoor Activity, 'the Progression Mindset,' and the Pressure of Experience

    Step Back From That Ledge? Outdoor Activity, ‘the Progression Mindset,’ and the Pressure of Experience

    Imagine you’re on a hike. (Where I live, everyone loves to hike.) Imagine you’re out in the woods, and you’ve been on the trail for hours, going steadily uphill, stepping carefully over rocks and slippery wet roots. By the time you reach the summit, you’ve eaten all your snacks, drunk most of your water, and […]

    Another Week Ends: The Loneliness Minister,  Divine Retribution, Sexual Misery, Lighthearted Poetry, Smart Pills, Astrology in the App Age, and David Bentley Hart's Grocery List

    Another Week Ends: The Loneliness Minister, Divine Retribution, Sexual Misery, Lighthearted Poetry, Smart Pills, Astrology in the App Age, and David Bentley Hart’s Grocery List

    1. This week brought some good news from the Old Country… In response to the increasingly acknowledged correlation between loneliness and physical deterioration/illness, the UK has appointed a minister for loneliness. I don’t know about you guys but, having grown up with a deep-seated appreciation for self-reliance, I couldn’t help getting a little smirky at this […]

    But Now Let's Have a Surprise

    But Now Let’s Have a Surprise

    I love church mishaps. Once, at a Baptist service, I spilled my little cup of communion Welch’s on a neighbor’s new white pants. He was so kind about it but also probably mad, and I was so embarrassed. There was a soft piano playing in the background while the preacher, up front, invited the congregation […]

    Another Week Ends: Burial Road, Rethinking Infidelity, Batman Smells, Curationism, the Anti-App, and the Absurdity of Hope

    Another Week Ends: Burial Road, Rethinking Infidelity, Batman Smells, Curationism, the Anti-App, and the Absurdity of Hope

    New episode of The Mockingcast (“Tis Better to Receive Than to Give”) now up on iTunes! Click here to subscribe. 1. Let’s begin with “The End,” The Times’ heartwrenching but incredibly moving series on death. This week’s entry, “The Heroes of Burial Road” by Catherine Porter, chronicles how, in response to unaffordable funeral costs and an […]

    When Joan Didion Cries into a Food Fair Bag

    When Joan Didion Cries into a Food Fair Bag

    I suppose it was only a matter of time before I found myself infatuated with the likes of Joan Didion (whose chain-smoking charms I put off for so long). She’s at last become inevitable. Along with her recent Netflix documentary and her brief epigraph in Lady Bird, her recently resurfaced essay “On Self-Respect” was nothing short […]