New Here?
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.


Author Archive
    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…

    Read More > > >

    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.”

    Cursed Clusters and Rockstar Fathers: How to Survive a Frazzled, Fragile Education

    Cursed Clusters and Rockstar Fathers: How to Survive a Frazzled, Fragile Education

    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…

    Read More > > >

    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).

    From The New Yorker


    Every Single Thing Anne Lamott Knows

    Every Single Thing Anne Lamott Knows

    Perhaps you’ve seen Anne Lamott’s Facebook post that went viral over the weekend, in which she lists “every single thing she knows” on the eve of her 61st birthday (which turns out to be fifteen things)? If not, do yourself a favor. Filled with characteristic wit and wisdom, not to mention memorable turns of phrase, it’s a crash course in effective communication, especially in regards to Christianity. In fact, it’s enough to make a person wonder: why is it that so many of the most compelling religious voices these days belong to women in recovery? It’s almost uncanny. Whatever the…

    Read More > > >

    When the Time’s Toxins – Christian Wiman

    From Orion Magazine’s celebration of poetry month

    tree-of-life52When the time’s toxins
    have seeped into every cell

    and like a salted plot
    from which all rain, all green, are gone

    I and life are leached
    of meaning

    somehow a seed
    of belief

    sprouts the instant
    I acknowledge it:

    little weedy hardy would-be

    tugged upward
    by light

    while deep within
    roots like talons

    are taking hold again
    of this our only earth.

    Things Happen (to Dawes)

    Yesterday NPR debuted the new video by Dawes, for “Things Happen”, the terrific first single from their upcoming album, All Your Favorite Bands (out June 2). Who plays the central troubadour in the Sgt Pepper suit? You may remember him from such projects as The Mockingbird Devotional, and this post. Nate Michaux is my hero:

    Another Holy Week Ends: Tinder Fixes, Going Clear, Oklahoma Grace, Online Shaming, Sufjan, and Preschool for Adults

    Another Holy Week Ends: Tinder Fixes, Going Clear, Oklahoma Grace, Online Shaming, Sufjan, and Preschool for Adults

    1. Wow. The award for Best Unintentional Good Friday Article goes to novelist Diana Spechler, writing in The Times. It’s her latest entry in a series of short essays documenting the process of tapering off her anti-depressants, “Going Off”. This one has to do with her relationship to the popular dating app Tinder, appropriately titled “Tinder While I Taper”. She not only captures the Romans 7/bondage of the will aspect with harrowing vividness, she does a remarkable job of  exposing the underside of a culture built on bootstrapping and the veneration of self-sufficiency, namely, the shame of self-insufficiency–the taboo of…

    Read More > > >

    A Poem for Good Friday – Emily Dickinson (#622)

    To know just how He suffered — would be dear —
    To know if any Human eyes were near
    To whom He could entrust His wavering gaze —
    Until it settle broad — on Paradise —

    106friedTo know if He was patient — part content —
    Was Dying as He thought — or different —
    Was it a pleasant Day to die —
    And did the Sunshine face his way —

    What was His furthest mind — Of Home — or God —
    Or what the Distant say —
    At news that He ceased Human Nature
    Such a Day —

    And Wishes — Had He Any —
    Just His Sigh — Accented —
    Had been legible — to Me —
    And was He Confident until
    Ill fluttered out — in Everlasting Well —

    And if He spoke — What name was Best —
    What last
    What One broke off with
    At the Drowsiest —

    Was He afraid — or tranquil —
    Might He know
    How Conscious Consciousness — could grow —
    Till Love that was — and Love too best to be —
    Meet — and the Junction be Eternity

    You Do You, Genghis

    You Do You, Genghis

    I was a little worried when The NY Times Magazine changed its format in February and did away with “Riff”, a column we’ve mined over the years almost more than any other. Lo and behold, my concern was misfounded. What they’ve done is clever, funneling those observations into a handful of thematically-defined columns, the language-oriented “First Words” being the prime example. For the second time in as many months, writer Colson Whitehead has utilized that new umbrella to deliver a tour de force of cultural commentary. Last time he explored the appeal of the ‘loser edit’, this time he goes…

    Read More > > >

    April Playlist