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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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    2-29-96 For John Barron story...David Foster Wallace discusses his new novel, 'Infinite Jest'.  Ellen Domke/Sun-Times  96-02-703

    The Non-Binding Paradox (of How David Foster Wallace Had Fun)

    Tomorrow marks the release of The End of the Tour, the dramatization of David Lipsky’s book-length interview with author David Foster Wallace, (a number of portions of which we’ve posted over the years). As much as I admire Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg, I’m in the camp of those who are ambivalent about the film’s production. Just feels too soon, and as his estate has made abundantly clear, there is no way the man himself would have wanted this to happen. The initial images from the set looked dubious, but then the first trailer appeared (below), and it was far…

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    Penn Faces and Campus Tragedies: More Notes on an Epidemic

    Penn Faces and Campus Tragedies: More Notes on an Epidemic

    Here’s why I didn’t want to write about Julie Scelfo’s recent article “Campus Suicide and the Pressure of Perfection” in The NY Times:

    It is not because we’ve written about the phenomenon too many times already–though we have. It is because writing about it again only serves to underline how futile-seeming these kinds of reflections are. Who wants to spend an afternoon basking in despair? Or mitigating the despair by placing oneself above it all? It is deeply unpleasant.

    This past year Charlottesville witnessed four undergraduate suicides, and I’m not sure I can muster the energy to cartwheel yet again over the…

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    From The Onion: Toddler Unsettled By Whatever Possessed Her To Bite Friend’s Face

    Pretty funny rejoinder to their classic, “New Study Reveals Most Children Unrepentant Sociopaths”. Read the full thing here:

    614Ob8PCQNL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_WESTON, CT—Visibly shocked and repulsed by her own behavior as she sat questioning the type of person she is deep down, unsettled 2-year-old Ellie Ritter admitted to reporters that she had no idea what compelled her to bite her friend on the face Thursday. “I honestly don’t know what came over me. I know Jacob took the train I was playing with, but I usually handle that kind of thing okay—but this time I…I bit him,” said a shaken and bewildered Ritter, sitting wide-eyed on a floor mat at her daycare… “I mean, this is Jacob we’re talking about. He’s my friend, my playmate. And I just went straight for his forehead like an animal. Jesus, what is wrong with me?” At press time, the unnerved toddler was staring uneasily down at her trembling, fingerpaint-covered hands and contemplating what other horrors she was capable of.

    Another Week Ends: Soren Love, Bad Sleep, Mindful Corporations, Pocket Knives, Captive Mothers and Mountain Goats

    Another Week Ends: Soren Love, Bad Sleep, Mindful Corporations, Pocket Knives, Captive Mothers and Mountain Goats

    1. In a sea of inter-religious conflict and division, how beautiful it is to catch a glimpse of the opposite. Apparently a group of Muslims has raised close to $100K to help rebuild the black churches that were burned in the recent rash of arson. Amen to that, ht BB.

    2. “I Still Love Kierkegaard” is the title of a wonderful article by Julian Baggini that appeared on Aeon. Favorite sections are the ones dealing with Soren’s Christianity:

    What Kierkegaard showed was that the only serious alternative to atheism or agnosticism was not what generally passes for religion but a much deeper…

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    Nerd Alert! The Curious Rehabilitation of Geeks

    Nerd Alert! The Curious Rehabilitation of Geeks

    Of all the reversals we’ve seen take place in our culture of late, one of the most unexpected has to be what’s happened with “nerds”. If you had told me in 1988 that the group of oddballs who sold me and my friends our comic books every Saturday would come to dominate the mainstream, part of me would’ve wanted to believe you, but wouldn’t have.

    Back then, “nerd” was a label to be avoided not embraced. It wasn’t a synonym for shy or misunderstood or even studious as it is today (though those traits often fell under its umbrella). Nor was…

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    Another Week Ends: FitBit Ennui, Screen Addictions, Zeitgeiste und Glueckschmertzen, Little Prince and Black Jesus

    Another Week Ends: FitBit Ennui, Screen Addictions, Zeitgeiste und Glueckschmertzen, Little Prince and Black Jesus

    Alrighty, another truncated weekender as we head into the dog days. More of a list of links really:

    1. This is exciting (fingers crossed): The Wall Street Journal has made the first chapter of Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman available on their website!

    2. As attention begins to turn toward the upcoming Technology Issue of our magazine, a few tech-related items have caught the eye, such as The Atlantic’s amusing, mid-year rejoinder to New Years resolutions, “The Ennui of the FitBit”:

    One research firm, Endeavour Partners, estimates that roughly a third of trackers get abandoned after six months. A recent editorial in…

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    International Philosophy World Cup: Greece vs. Germany

    Doubt we’ll ever get a better opportunity to post this Python gem, ht TH:

    Thou Shalt Never Feel Bad: Inside Out for the Ivy League

    Thou Shalt Never Feel Bad: Inside Out for the Ivy League

    Sadness is having a cultural moment, and that makes me happy. Much of this is thanks to Pixar’s Inside Out, that rare film which deserves all the success and acclaim being heaped upon it.

    There are any number of reasons to laud the movie, as DP pointed out a couple weeks ago. Its artistic merits are beyond question, but so are those of, say, The Box Trolls (seriously!). What makes Inside Out so remarkable is its message. Pete Docter, et al, are saying something that strikes the almost impossible balance of timely, courageous, and, well, true. Which is that sadness, grief,…

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    Thirteen Songs About Forgiveness Not Written By Don Henley

    Thirteen Songs About Forgiveness Not Written By Don Henley

    Excited to offer up the following taste of the new issue of The Mockingbird:

    “The song that launched a thousand sermons” is one way to describe Don Henley’s 1989 single “The Heart of the Matter”. Mark our words: the composition will outlive anything else the ornery Walden Pond advocate has written, “Hotel California” included—for no other reason than the fact that it still gets routinely name-checked in Sunday sermons across the world, more than 25 years after it was released. Of course, it is a great song. Even those who harbor reservations about The Eagles (e.g., Jeff Lebowski) recognize its power;…

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    CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, Anjelica Huston, Martin Landau, 1989, couple at the beach in winter

    Infidelity, Love, and the New Shame

    Just dove into Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg’s Modern Romance, and have to say, it’s pretty great. Funny yet with a surprising amount of meat on its bones. As mentioned the other day, the book’s primary interest lies in exploring 1. the unspoken cultural imperative to find a ‘soul mate’ and 2. the resulting anxiety, frustration, and confusion that characterizes modern romance. I was particularly struck by how the word ‘soul mate’ has come to serve as a synonym for savior. A weight it clearly cannot bear:

    Searching for a soul mate takes a long time and requires enormous emotional investment. The problem is that this search for the perfect…

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    Another Week Ends: Conditional Epidemics, Lasting Love Songs, Contextless Forgiveness, Enforced Happiness, Atheist Architecture and John Adams’ Lament

    Another Week Ends: Conditional Epidemics, Lasting Love Songs, Contextless Forgiveness, Enforced Happiness, Atheist Architecture and John Adams’ Lament

    1. Reporting from the Aspen Festival of Ideas, Connor Friedersdorf briefs us on “How Parents Make High-Achieving Kids Miserable” via a discussion that took place earlier this week between William Deresiewicz and David Brooks on the state/purpose of higher education. The first twelve minutes find Deresiewicz recounting the background of his new book, but once Brooks hits the stage (13 minute mark or so), it really heats up. For instance:

    “I see my students burdened by this epidemic of conditional love, where their parents have honed them, and if they decide not to take the job they want, or the major…

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    Hidden Holiness: The Experience of Sanctification? – Will McDavid

    Carrying on with the videos from our Spring Conferences, here’s Will’s expert exploration of air travel, spiritual and otherwise:

    Hidden Holiness: The Experience of Sanctification? – Will McDavid from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

    Can’t pass up the opportunity to laud our favorite man-from-Macon, who just finished his final week as full-time staff with Mockingbird after three and a half absurdly fruitful years. Will is heading to law school this Fall–an irony not lost on him, believe me–but thankfully staying close and sticking in Charlottesville. So while he’ll still pop up on here from time to time, do say a prayer for the guy, and if you feel inspired, drop a comment below (or shoot him well wishes at mcdavid.will@gmail.com). It’s been such a privilege and joy to have him on the team.

    BONUS QUESTION: What’s your favorite McDavid opus? I have too many to list here. But certainly Christian Battle Lines, God Redeems Our Anthropomorphism, Disgruntled Millennials, the Metropolitan review, the NT Wright takedown, Goodhart’s Law, and of course, A Great Prince Died So a Hedge Knight Might Live would make the cut. The Preamar post still gives me a chuckle too – you know, that time Mockingbird became the international connection point for fans of a Brazilian TV show and its creator(s).