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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 three sons, where David also serves on the staff of Christ Episcopal Church (


Author Archive
    A Mockingbird Gift Guide (2017 Edition)

    A Mockingbird Gift Guide (2017 Edition)

    That time again! Click here to check out last year’s guide. And to make sure all the gifts below look their best, we recommend using (w)rapping paper.

    For the grandmothers and grandmothers-at-heart in your life, or anyone you’d like to thank for being a friend: Golden Girls Clue board game. (“Who ate the last piece of cheesecake?”)

    For the high-energy first grader down the street whose parents are always hovering: My First Fire Gift Box. If you sense they’re an Anglo-Catholic in training, though, there’s always Wee Believers’ Mass Kit for Kids.

    For the foodie in your midst whose locavore commitments you suspect…

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    Another Week Ends: Justice and Revenge, Tiger's Comback, Fleming's Advent, 35 Year Old Thrillers, Avocado Toast, and Truly Terrible Movies

    Another Week Ends: Justice and Revenge, Tiger’s Comback, Fleming’s Advent, 35 Year Old Thrillers, Avocado Toast, and Truly Terrible Movies

    A bit of a truncated weekender today, as we recover from a flurry of activity here in Cville, most notably the relaunch of The Mockingcast and the sending of our year-end newsletter and appeal. If you’d like to find out more about what we’ve got planned for 2018 (#mbirdtwopointoh!) and how you can help, we’d love to put a copy in the mail to you. Just be sure we have you on our physical mailing list. And as a reminder, anyone who signs up for any amount of regular monthly giving receives an automatic subscription to The Mockingbird. We rely on…

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    Masculinity in Crisis: Unexamined Libidos and the Organizing Principle of Lady Bird

    Masculinity in Crisis: Unexamined Libidos and the Organizing Principle of Lady Bird

    If it’s true what Stephen Marche writes in The Unmade Bed, that there’s nothing less manly than talking about manliness, I’m not sure where that leaves me. After reading Marche’s latest column in The New York Times, “The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido,” I realized I’m averaging one essay per year on the subject:

    Underachieving Boys and the Masks Men Wear
    Online Males, Deadbeat Females, and the Simplest Thing in the World
    Are You Man Enough? When Virile Was a Compliment
    Please Help The Cause Against (Middle Age Male) Loneliness

    It’s some of the stuff I’m most proud of, to be honest, partly because…

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    The Humanity of Harassment

    I’ve been trying to find a way in to writing about the rash of Hollywood headlines, and sexual harassment more generally, and may have finally found one. Don’t think I wasn’t tempted to take Sarah Silverman up on her question–the key question, as far as I can tell, but also too important of one to broach in haste, or before we’ve all had a little longer to absorb the gravity and breadth of the situation.

    That is, it feels like any pronouncements at this point, theological or otherwise, would be premature if not insensitive, possibly even a way of avoiding the…

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    Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad (and Him, Too)

    You can’t time this stuff. At least, if you did, it wouldn’t pack half the punch.

    I’m referring to the release of The Rentals’ song “Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad” a few short weeks before Rolling Stone published a full-length profile of the man in question. We’ll take them one at a time.

    The Rentals, which at this point is really just the moniker for Matt Sharp (of early Weezer fame), haven’t released a record since 2014’s excellent Lost in Alphaville. Then, on October 5th, “Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad” appeared out of nowhere, a seven minute gospel pop opus…

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    From The New Yorker

    The Possibility of (Actual) Dialogue Between Atheists and Christians

    Hooray! The much-esteemed Francis Spufford has a new book out this month, a collection of essays entitled True Stories & Other Essays. Highly recommended for anyone interested in language and literature, to say nothing of thoughtful Christianity (or, curiously enough, the Arctic!). The earliest piece in the “Sacred” section takes the form of an open letter to atheists–not surprisingly perhaps, given that it was published in 2012, at the height of the New Atheist hubbub. The whole thing overflows with characteristic wit and eloquence, and despite the title, aims to move beyond categories of antagonism. Its stirring final paragraphs are…

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    Incurvatus in Se(x)

    Another quote from Mark Greif’s essay, “Afternoon of the Sex Children”, taken from the collection Against Everything. While he may put a few more eggs in the cultural agency basket than I would, the core observation, when considered alongside an incurvatus in se-/AA-derived estimation of human libido, can’t help but illuminate our moment. You have to ask, in other words, are today’s headlines the awful yet inevitable fallout of decades of rephrasing/selling sex as self-fulfillment? Or is the everything/nothing-ness of our sexual schizophrenia an expression of a deeper bind? You tell me. Ghastly either way:

    The reason it seems a sex…

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    Another Week Ends: Happy Misconceptions, Pietist Flavors, MLK’s Debts, WeWork Cults, Pixel Artists, Misery Filters and Dylan’s Gospel Years

    Before I dive in, I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone who made the DC event last weekend such a smash, especially the wonderful people at All Saints Episcopal Church in Chevy Chase and the super talented Meaghan Ritchey. It was everything we could have hoped for! The audio files should be up in the next few days. They’ll drop first on the Mockingcast feed, so be sure you’re subscribed (speaking of which, the program itself is coming back! More soon).

    Okay, a ton of strong material this week. At the top of the pile…

    1. “Happiness is Other People”…

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    November Playlist

    Not easy to find tracks that fit the quincentennial theme…

    The Hidden Link Between Martin Luther and… Peter Parker?

    Can’t say I was expecting the following (timely!) illustration to pop up in the Substitution chapter of Fleming Rutledge’s The Crucifixion, ht RS:

    A substantive argument against the motif of atonement and substitution is that people in other cultures around the world do not see themselves in the categories we have been discussing–guilt, incapacity, bondage, shame, failure, defeat. Yet the more one hears this, the more the categories seem to pop up. Here is an example that originated in American comic-book culture and spread around the world. In a highbrow essay review of Spider-Man, the blockbuster movie of 2002, Geoffrey O’Brien,…

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    What Happened After Mister Rogers Visited Koko the Gorilla

    What Happened After Mister Rogers Visited Koko the Gorilla

    A lot going on in this wonderfully upside-down excerpt from the profile of Mr Rogers that Esquire ran in 1998, the sort of thing that if it hadn’t actually happened, no one would believe it. A beautiful reminder that grace and law do not follow a linguistic formula, thank God, ht G&AP:

    Once upon a time, there was a boy who didn’t like himself very much. It was not his fault. He was born with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is something that happens to the brain. It means that you can think but sometimes can’t walk, or even talk….

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