David Zahl is the director of Mockingbird Ministries and editor-in-chief of the Mockingbird blog. He and his wife Cate currently reside in Charlottesville, VA, with their two sons, Charlie and Cabell, where David also serves on the staff of Christ Episcopal Church.
- Tin Solider (live) – The Small Faces
- One Tin Soldier – The Original Castle
- Morning Girl – Neon Philharmonic
- Made in Dagenham – Sandie Shaw
- Going Down – The Stone Roses
- New York Morning – Elbow
- The Story of Me – The Everly Brothers
- Eyes to the Wind – The War on Drugs
- Mockingbird – Rob Thomas
- How a Resurrection Really Feels – The Hold Steady
- Carl Perkins’ Cadillac – Drive-by Truckers
- Mirage – Mack Starks
- Invisible – Burton Cummings
- Big Jet Plane – Primal Scream
- Stranger in Moscow – Tame Impala
- Control – Broken Bells
- Be Good – Emily Kinney
- Just One Victory – Todd Rundgren
- London’s a Lonely Town – Dave Edmunds
- San Miguel – The Beach Boys
- I Can’t Go Back to Denver – Tommy James
- Look Out Cleveland (live) – The Band
- Fall in Philadelphia – Hall & Oates
- Memphis Tennessee – Elvis Presley
- Thanks for Chicago, Mr James – Scott Walker
- Paris 1919 – John Cale
- The City of New Orleans – Arlo Guthrie
- Life in San Fransisco – Girls
- Time Spent in Los Angeles – Dawes
- Another Lonely Night in New York – Robin Gibb
- Shanghai Surprise – George Harrison
- The District Sleeps Alone Tonight – The Postal Service
- Stranger in Moscow – Michael Jackson
- Vienna – Ultravox
- Going Down to Liverpool – The Bangles
- London Town – Paul McCartney
I was bonding with a friend in New York last week over our mutual affection for the new Wes Anderson film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. After swapping a few favorite lines, he asked, with a twinkle in his eye, “So how’re you going to shoe-horn this one into your theological framework?” Quick wit that I am, I responded, “A story about adoption and inheritance that ends with an act of radical self-sacrifice – probably won’t need my shoehorn for this one”. Badabing! Obnoxious, I know. What’s even more obnoxious is that I’d been thinking for days about Grand Budapest and…
The time has come to post four rather astounding quotes from the 1993 interview that Larry McCaffery conducted with David Foster Wallace. It first appeared in Review of Contemporary Fiction, and the second paragraph will be familiar to those who attended last week’s conference:
I had a teacher I liked who used to say good fiction’s job was to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. I guess a big part of serious fiction’s purpose is to give the reader, who like all of us is sort of marooned in her own skull, to give her imaginative access to other selves….
Time for another memorable passage from Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King:
Now I have already mentioned that there was a disturbance in my heart, a voice that spoke there and said, I want, I want, I want! It happened every afternoon, and when I tried to suppress it it got even stronger. It only said one thing, I want, I want!
And I would ask, “What do you want?”
But this was all it would ever tell me. It never said a thing except I want, I want, I want!
At times I would treat it like an ailing child whom you offer rhymes or candy. I would walk it, I would trot it. I would sing to it or read to it. No use. I would change into overalls and go up on the ladder and spackle cracks in the ceiling; I would chop wood, go out and drive a tractor, work in the barn among the pigs. No, no! Through fistfights and drunkenness and labor it went right on, in the country, in the city. No purchase, no matter how expensive, would lessen it. Then I would say, “Come on, tell me. What’s the complaint, is it Lily herself? Do you want some nasty whore? It has to be some lust?” But this was no better a guess than the others. The demand came louder, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want! And I would cry, begging at last, “Oh, tell me then. Tell me what you want!” And finally I’d say, “Okay, then. One of these days, stupid. You wait!”
This was what made me behave as I did. By three o’clock I was in despair. Only toward sunset the voice would let up. And sometimes I thought maybe this was my occupation because it would knock off at five o’clock itself. America is so big, and everybody is working, making, digging, bulldozing, trucking, loading, and so on, and I guess the sufferers suffer at the same rate. Everybody wanting to pull together. I tried every cure you can think of. Of course, in an age of madness, to expect to be untouched by madness is a form of madness. But the pursuit of sanity can be a form of madness, too. (pg. 24-25)
One of the most difficult and awkward things about being a youth minister was billing the events we would organize. We would tell kids about how much fun or profound something would be, hoping they would come, and we wouldn’t be lying. We knew the retreat/camp/outing would be a great time; they always were. But the second those words escaped your mouth (“the most fun you’ll ever have! the trip of a lifetime!”), they rang hollow. You could see it in the looks on the faces of whomever you were addressing. How fun could something be if you had to…
I hate shopping for toothpaste. You probably know what I’m talking about. There’s the kind that’s good on cavities but doesn’t whiten. There’s the environmentally friendly brand that cleans well but doesn’t do much for the breath. There’s the all-in-one variety that looks promising but only comes in a small (expensive) tube. And then there’s every possible variation thereof. The hours I’ve killed in that brightly colored aisle are more than embarrassing, they’re borderline irresponsible.
Like you, I’ve read about the paradox of choice (the more options, the harder it is to choose), but truth be told, it has yet to…
О weariness of men who turn from God
To the grandeur of your mind and the glory of your action,
To arts and inventions and daring enterprises.
To schemes of human greatness thoroughly discredited.
Binding the earth and the water to your service,
Exploiting the seas and developing the mountains,
Dividing the stars into common and preferred.
Engaged in devising the perfect refrigerator,
Engaged in working out a rational morality,
Engaged in printing as many books as possible,
Plotting of happiness and flinging empty bottles,
Turning from your vacancy to fevered enthusiasm
For nation or race or what you call humanity;
Though you forget the way to the Temple,
There is one who remembers the way to your door:
Life you may evade, but Death you shall not.
You shall not deny the Stranger…
Why should men love the Church? Why should they love her laws?
She tells them of Life and Death, and of all that they would forget.
She is tender where they would be hard, and hard where they would like to be soft.
She tells them of Evil and Sin, and other unpleasant facts.
They constantly try to escape
From the darkness outside and within
By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.
But the man that is will shadow
The man that pretends to be.
Another Week Ends: Secret Auden, Eagleton Deicide, Remembering Wes, Method Acting, True Detective, and Russian Tourist Tips
1. Holy smokes! Have you read Edward Mendelson’s “The Secret Auden” in the NY Review of Books?! If not, run don’t walk. It’s a jaw-dropping, incredibly inspiring catalog of the clandestine episodes of grace initiated by our all-time favorite Wystan–about as honest a Matthew 6:5 vibe as I’ve come across in ages. Lest these remarkable stories be dismissed as mere hagiography, Mendelson (author of the indispensable Later Auden) doesn’t lionize the great poet, instead tracing the ‘good works’ back to their root–which is not a sense of earning or credit (clearly) but of genuine humility brought on by piercing self-knowledge….