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.
- Thanksgiving has provided the inspiration for a number of memorable posts over the years. To peruse our archive, click here.
Funny when things hit at once. This past week, the episode of The White Horse Inn I was privileged to tape back in August hit the airwaves. Our topic was “Jesus in Pop Culture”, and you can listen here. Or download the mp3 (free), right here. Always a joy to be with those guys.
- Then, I had the opportunity to sit in with our friends at Christ Hold Fast for an episode of the Christ Hold Fast Cast. Among the subjects we touched on were Law and Gospel (our new book), church in a digital age, and self-forgiveness. Lots of fun to be with them as well.
- At the risk of over-saturation, we recorded a special new Thanksgiving episode of The Mockingcast this week, which you can listen to here. Sarah “adviceless” Condon guests #scottjonesismyhero.
- The digital versions of our magazines are just a click (or three) away! We’ve been incredibly touched and encouraged by the response to The Technology Issue. Important: if you’ve got a church or seminary bookstore that you’d like to see stock The Mockingbird, let us know (email@example.com)! We’d love to send them some sample copies.
- Speaking of the magazine, we’re about to send out a Christmas card with some exclusive deals on all our print publications. To be sure you get one, sign up for our physical mailing list.
- Great NY Times column on internal persecution and the echo chamber of conscience in the smartphone era from Rachel Fields, “The Five Stages of Ghosting Grief”, i.e. Was it Something I Texted?
- Believe it or not, Pixar’s beloved Toy Story turned 20 years old this past week. If you’ve never read the fantastic essay that Jeremiah Lawson wrote for us about the landmark film(s), “Toy Story as a Journey of Heroic Repentance”, click here for part one. Jeremiah wrote an updated reflection here.
- Along those lines, we couldn’t be more excited to announce our newest publication: the book-length Mockingbird at the Movies! This one’s been in the works for a while, a collection of 45 essays (almost all brand new) from a wide range of contributors, exploring relevant themes in our favorite films. The manuscript is being proofed as we speak, and you can check out a preview of the cover above (not final). Look for a release the first week of Dec #cjgreenismyhero.
- Last but not least, pre-registration for our 2016 NYC Conference (4/16-18) opens Wednesday, Dec 2nd.
As per usual, we’ll be taking a break for the next few days, returning with new content on Monday. While we’re gone, a few things that might be worth checking out:
It may be the single greatest Thanksgiving film ever made, yet Broadway Danny Rose is something of an anomaly in Woody Allen’s filmography. Released 1984, it came smack dab in the middle of his golden period (1977-1992), right after Zelig and just before The Purple Rose of Cairo, when Woody could do no wrong. His increased confidence as an actor and filmmaker showed itself in his decision to vary his character more than he ever had before, or since. Instead of a conflicted-yet-talented college-educated neurotic, Woody plays a long-suffering, working-class hustler, a guy who just can’t catch a break (and…
I made a mistake when appointing the Most Relevant Onion Article By a Significant Margin in our 2014 year-end wrap-up post. I don’t regret the one we awarded the label (“Area Child Disappointed to Learn Parents’ Love Unconditional”). It stands up. The runner’s up were pretty solid as well, “I’m Sorry, But You’re Just Not the Man I Hoped You Would Become When I Married You” and “Man’s Insecurities Versatile Enough To Be Projected Onto Any Situation”.
The problem isn’t so much what was included as what wasn’t. Because the headline I’ve gotten by far the most mileage out of this…
America’s favorite Franciscan dropped a doozie of a daily meditation the other day, one too relevant not to pass on. It is drawn from his book Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. Here’s the lion’s share, but you can read the full text here, ht JE:
The spirituality of the Twelve Steps is another important part of my wisdom lineage. Although I have never formally belonged to a Twelve Step group, I have learned much from people who are in recovery. I truly believe that the Twelve Step program (also known as Alcoholics Anonymous or A.A.) will go down in history as…
Another Week Ends: Atheist Ecstasies, Intolerant Activists, Essential Oils, Rumors n Roses, & Walls of Gum
Couple quick announcements before diving in: The Technology Issue is officially out the door! The last batch went out on 11/12. So if you haven’t received yours by the end of next week, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Two new episodes of The Mockingcast are up too, one covering the post below and another dealing exclusively with the new issue of the magazine.
1. While the most exciting thing I’ve read this week, far and away, is THIS, the best thing has to be Mbird fave & friend Francis Spufford’s new article on “Spiritual Literature for Atheists” that appears in the current print edition of…
Another couple paragraphs from Ted Peters’ wonderful Sin Boldly!: Justifying Faith for Fragile and Broken Souls. This comes from the chapter on “Consciousness and Conscience”, in which he explores the ways we conflate conscience with justice, and God with conscience; or rather, how we instinctually restrict our image of God to that of lawgiver.
The conscience is tricky. It projects an image of God as judge, God as enforcer of the moral universe. Our functional image of God becomes the conscience writ large. To be sure, the true God is not fooled by our intra-psychic manipulations. In contrast to our image of God, the true God is self-defining. The true God challenges and even judges our image of God as judge… What we get from the divine Word, says Luther, is the announcement that God is gracious. Without this revelation through the Word, the deity we imagine will look like a dispenser of justice, judgment, and condemnation… But according to Luther, this risks idolatry. (pg. 157-158)
The comprehensive way in which the conscience spreads the horizon of our moral universe hides a truth, a truth about God. God is not co-extensive with our moral universe or even co-terminus with metaphysical justice. God is gracious. God is present to us in ways that cannot be accounted for by a justice calculus. (pg 153)
Poor Return of the Jedi. Somehow it has become the Rodney Dangerfield of the original trilogy (“no respect!”), routinely ranked by fans as the least favored installment. On lists that include the prequels, it sometimes falls below Revenge of the Sith. Those who have re-watched Revenge of the Sith recently know that is no minor slight.
I’d like to believe that there is something in my Christian DNA that compels me to defend the indefensible, love the loveless and stick up for the marginalized, even in a seemingly silly way. Alas, my affinity for Jedi probably has more to do with a sentimental attachment, as it was the first non-animated movie I saw in theaters. If I truly cared about the least of these, I would be writing about Attack of the Clones. Some sand is too coarse.
Literary portrayals of Alcoholics Anonymous are notoriously difficult. The primary challenge being, how do you write about “the program” without sounding either corny or patronizing. It doesn’t help that word people have such an allergy to the slogans and platitudes that populate AA. Anyway, I’m always on the lookout for effective depictions, and recently had to opportunity to ask someone who knows about such things if they were aware of any good ones–other than Infinite Jest, that is. Her answer surprised me. She told me that if I hadn’t read Erica Jong’s Any Woman’s Blues, I should consider it, that…