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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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    From The New Yorker

    GiveUP

    The Final Confession of Donald Draper

    The Final Confession of Donald Draper

    Spoilers, people, spoilers.

    “I broke all my vows. I scandalized my child. I took another man’s name and made nothing of it.”

    Thus goes the bottoming out we’ve been waiting for these past 7-8 years from Don Draper. His long dismantling, both self-instigated and otherwise, reached its endpoint in Mad Men‘s finale. Don’s marriage, his position, his children are gone–the various phone calls make that clear. Even his “niece” Stephanie refuses to let him be needed, going so far as to remove his last shred of agency, stranding him at the retreat center. Reduced to nothing, Don makes his confession to…

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    Another Week Ends: Christian Decline, Gaffigan Pilot, Instagram Edicts, Lake Wobegon Effect, Paltrow Haters, and Inkling Endings

    Another Week Ends: Christian Decline, Gaffigan Pilot, Instagram Edicts, Lake Wobegon Effect, Paltrow Haters, and Inkling Endings

    “Pot-bellied pigs have been wildly unfashionable since 2005. Owning a pot-bellied pig is frowned upon almost as much as being a Christian.”

    1. These are the words of Erlich Bachman in the most recent episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley, perhaps the funniest show on television at the moment (Veep being its main competition). They come after Erlich has heard a pitch from a tech start-up that he’s considering investing in, a Christian dog-sharing company(!). Before launching into the pot-bellied pigs riff, he tells the two would-be entrepreneurs, “Besides, I’m sure you know that Christianity is borderline illegal in Northern California”. It’s…

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    No Room in the Nosebleeds for Dre Kirkpatrick

    With Mother’s Day in the rearview, time to shift our sights, and how better to do so than with this wonderful, tearjerking story from Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, ht BB.

    How Louis CK Received a Massive Gift

    How Louis CK Received a Massive Gift

    Some refreshingly counter-cultural thoughts about identity, kids, and self-fulfillment from America’s favorite comedian, courtesy of a recent conversation with NPR’s Terry Gross:

    C.K: When I first got married and had kids, I thought, you know – I had some friends that I played poker with on Mondays, and I thought the poker game on Mondays is – that’s the water line. Like, if I don’t make that game, I’m losing something. I’m losing something if I don’t make it to that game. It means I’m letting go of my youth, I’m letting go of my manhood – all of things –…

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    The Crucial Eccentricity of the Christian Faith (According to Frederick Buechner)

    Thanks to Key Life for bringing this wonderful, Mr. Rogers-esque clip to our attention. Great final line:

    May Playlist

    Another Week Ends: Grace Cubed, Fay’s Tyndale, Not-So-New Atheists, Nihilist Arbys, Catholic Daredevils, and Tomorrowland

    Another Week Ends: Grace Cubed, Fay’s Tyndale, Not-So-New Atheists, Nihilist Arbys, Catholic Daredevils, and Tomorrowland

    1. It’s always gratifying to see the discussion about grace and law taking place in unexpected venues. For instance, over at The Living Church, a publication geared toward Episcopalians, a couple of articles have gone up recently about the preaching of absolution and the role of ethics/exhortation in the Christian life. Before you glaze over at the insider language, it would appear that Mockingbird–or at least our perspective–served as a reference point. In the initial post, “Grace, growth and God’s dream”, Jordan Hylden was critical of what he perceives to be a biblically reductive and borderline Manichean approach to the pulpit, raising some valuable (if familiar) questions in relation…

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    Thesis 10 of The Humility Code (and the Scales of the Universe)

    Thesis 10 of The Humility Code (and the Scales of the Universe)

    As Bryan alluded to in the most recent weekender, David Brooks’ new book The Road to Character hit shelves last week and has been lighting up our social media feeds, as the NY Times columnist tends to do whenever he gets into less topical territory. While the volume itself makes its way to our mailbox, a couple of reviews and write-ups are too tasty not to mention. Brooks has gone on record to state that, “my book is not a religious book. It uses religious categories … and I do that because I think the public square needs to have…

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    Bill Fay Asks Who Is the Sender?

    What a supremely pleasant surprise to find out that Bill Fay, one of our all-time favorites, has a new record coming out next week, Who Is The Sender? It’s streaming over at NPR as we speak. The tracklisting alone yields several possible future offertories, e.g., “Bring It On Lord”, “A Frail and Broken One”, and the title track, which Bill explains in the press release this way:

    What the piano taught [Fay] was how to connect to one of the great joys of his life. “Music gives,” he says. And he is a grateful receiver. But, it makes him wonder, “Who is the sender?” Fay – who after more than five decades writing songs is finally being appreciated as one of our finest living practitioners of the art – asserts that, for him, songs aren’t actually written but found…

    The joy and sadness are indeed deep in this material, which Bill describes as “alternative gospel”. Though it clearly stems from his belief, he doesn’t seek to proselytise or convert anybody, but just hopes to share the concerns he puts into the words and the feelings that he receives from the music: “Goodness, beauty, comfort. If something gives in the world, that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Maybe that’s what music wants to do.”

    Simultaneously Frazzled and Fragile: Surviving a Culture of Overachievement

    Simultaneously Frazzled and Fragile: Surviving a Culture of Overachievement

    It’s getting to the point where I’d almost rather not draw attention to articles like Frank Bruni’s “Best, Brightest–and Saddest?”. Not just because I wish their subject matter wasn’t as urgent as it is, or that their claims were more groundless, but because the whole thing has become so excruciatingly obvious. As performancism escalates, so too does its fallout, and the affected demographics only seem to be getting younger. Reading about each new upping of the ante feels like watching a massive collision unfold in slow motion, one where we’ve all had our turn at the wheel.

    Bruni’s article focuses on the teenage…

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    Write-Up of NYC Conference

    As we in C’ville continue to recover from what was a truly wonderful weekend–thank you, Cal St. G’s!–we invite you to check out the write-up of the event that just went up over at Liberate. Very gracious. Even the conference magician gets a nod (as well he should).