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About David Zahl

David Zahl is the director of Mockingbird Ministries and editor-in-chief of the Mockingbird blog. He and his wife Cate reside in Charlottesville, VA, with their two sons, where David also serves on the staff of Christ Episcopal Church.

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Author Archive
    
    From the Archives: Surviving November

    From the Archives: Surviving November

    Even though it’s not even September, the weary need their rest. As we enter a particularly vicious (and ridiculous) election cycle, we bring out from the archives our “Surviving November” series from four years back. Based on Jonathan Haidt’s work, The Righteous Mind, DZ delves into the sociology of political strife, and what hope we might be able to gather in spite of it.

     

    I. Political Divides, Intuitive Dogs, and Rational Tails

    Maybe the non-stop and increasingly ludicrous “opposition ads” have started to make you dread turning on the TV. Maybe you can’t read your (predominantly pop culture-focused!) Twitterfeed without getting depressed about…

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    Another Week Ends: All-American Phelps, Puritan Play, Forgiving Mel, Cargo Shorts & #FirstSevenJobs

    Another Week Ends: All-American Phelps, Puritan Play, Forgiving Mel, Cargo Shorts & #FirstSevenJobs

    Click here to listen to this week’s episode of The Mockingcast, in which Scott interviews Krista Tippett, host of NPR’s On Being. Seriously!

    1. Even if you’re not as absorbed in the Olympics as yours truly, you can’t have spent much time on the interwebs this week without hearing something about what’s happening in the pool down in Rio. The US is dominating to an almost embarrassing extent, and you-know-who just keeps on winning gold medals. Since we didn’t highlight it back in June, do read Karen Crouse’s “Seeking Answers, Michael Phelps Finds Himself” if you haven’t had a chance, as…

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    When Forgiveness Flounders

    Timely paragraph from Miroslav Volf’s volume Exclusion and Embrace, ht SJ:

    exclusion-and-embrace-1“Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans even as I exclude myself from the community of sinners. But no one can be in the presence of the God of the crucified Messiah for long without overcoming this double exclusion — without transposing the enemy from the sphere of the monstrous… into the sphere of shared humanity and herself from the sphere of proud innocence into the sphere of common sinfulness. When one knows [as the cross demonstrates] that the torturer will not eternally triumph over the victim, one is free to rediscover that person’s humanity and imitate God’s love for him. And when one knows [as the cross demonstrates] that God’s love is greater than all sin, one is free to see oneself in the light of God’s justice and so rediscover one’s own sinfulness.”

    How To Be Miserable, Lesson 27

    How To Be Miserable, Lesson 27

    Putting the finishing touches on the Mental Health issue of our print magazine, and simply couldn’t wait to share an excerpt from one of the books we’re including in our list Non-Self-Help Self-Help Books. This comes from Randy J. Paterson’s recently released How to Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use, a tongue-in-cheek guide to being your own worst enemy. You’ll learn, for example, how to “filter for the negative”, “construct future hells”, and “rehearse the regrettable past.” As you can imagine, it’s all pretty much worth reprinting, but for the sake of brevity, here’s one of my favorites, the…

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    How Many Friends Have I Really Got?

    How Many Friends Have I Really Got?

    The most awkward part of the wedding wasn’t the foot-washing, believe it or not. Uncomfortably sensual, sure, but there was also something touching about it.

    More awkward was the fact that she was there in the first place. You see, she would’ve been surprised to receive an invitation, let alone a request to be a bridesmaid. But there she was, lined up at the altar with six ladies she’d never met before, all of them wearing the same dress, standing behind an amiable young woman with whom she had at best a passing acquaintance.

    A more honest person (or less of a…

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    For the Olympically Inclined

    As the country takes a well-needed breath and digs into some synchronized diving and canoe slaloming, let us all take three and a half minutes to soak in Mary Carillo’s epic badminton rant from 2004. Your mental health will thank you:

    P.S. Deadspin followed up with Mary a couple years ago. Priceless.

    Nonadaptation – Czeslaw Milosz

    From the Polish master’s final volume of poetry, Second Space, brought to mind via Benjamin Self’s truly exquisite essay on the Impertinence of Beauty, ht KW:

    41+5K2UvKRL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_I was not made to live anywhere except in Paradise.

    Such, simply, was my genetic inadaptation.

    Here on earth every prick of a rose-thorn changed into a wound.
    whenever the sun hid behind a cloud, I grieved.

    I pretended to work like others from morning to evening,
    but I was absent, dedicated to invisible countries.

    For solace I escaped to city parks, there to observe
    and faithfully describe flowers and trees, but they changed,
    under my hand, into the gardens of Paradise.

    I have not loved a woman with my five senses.
    I only wanted from her my sister, from before the banishment.

    And I respected religion, for on this earth of pain
    it was a funereal and a propitiatory song.

    August Playlist

    Another Week Ends: Script-Flipping Danish Cops, Gracious Nominees, Minimal Anxiety, Metal Words and Bowie’s Faves

    Another Week Ends: Script-Flipping Danish Cops, Gracious Nominees, Minimal Anxiety, Metal Words and Bowie’s Faves

    1. It’s getting to the point where NPR’s Invisibilia should just give up the ghost and rebrand themselves as Grace in Practice: The Podcast. Every time I think this second season couldn’t get any more relevant, they come out with an episode like “Flip the Script”, essentially an hour-length exploration of the psychology of imputation.

    They open with a jaw-dropping story of a backyard BBQ in DC being interrupted by a stranger wielding a gun, threatening harm unless he’s given money, pronto. The couples in attendance don’t have any cash on them, and before they panic, one of the ladies offers…

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    How to Be a Person in a World of Divorce Delusions

    How to Be a Person in a World of Divorce Delusions

    I first ran across the name “Heather Havrilesky” back in 2011, when The New York Times Magazine published a column of hers comparing the tv shows Friday Night Lights and Glee. What she wrote knocked me flat, and formed the basis of one of our first posts to go (relatively) viral. Here was someone musing on our favorite themes in a national outlet, with a wit and compassion that we could only dream of mustering.

    Since then, seldom a week has passed when I haven’t been on the lookout for her by-line. Because no matter what the topic, Havrilesky’s knack for…

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    A Potentially Massive Misjudgment (about Dreaming)

    A Potentially Massive Misjudgment (about Dreaming)

    “But What If We’re Wrong?” is the fascinating question that Chuck Klosterman asks in his new book (of the same name). He spends roughly 250 pages attempting to “think about the present as if it were the past”, meaning, he’s looking to uncover what we’ll look back on in 30, 50, 100 years and be shocked/embarrassed by the casual certitude with which we accepted it as truth. That is, what will our future generations thumb their noses at about our present day, the way we thumb our noses about, say, pesticides? What that we think is second-rate will be remembered…

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    Optimizing the Sabbath (One Pillow at a Time)

    Optimizing the Sabbath (One Pillow at a Time)

    The following originally appeared as a guest post to Amy Julia Becker’s blog over at Christianity Today. Some readers may notice a few, er, congruencies with past Mbird posts:

    A couple of years ago, The New York Times ran a remarkably astute editorial about the state of American sleep. Apparently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently declared insomnia to be a full-blown public health epidemic. The “Sleep Industry”—a $32 billion/year endeavor—has responded. They’ve introduced a spate of new soporific technology, from pills and teas and chocolates to bracelets and mattresses. (The number one selling paid app on iTunes this…

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