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.
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…
Carrying on with the videos from our Spring Conferences, here’s Will’s expert exploration of air travel, spiritual and otherwise:
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 email@example.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).
Another one from Ted Peters’ Sin Boldly!:
“Measurements, milestones, merits, awards, and orthodoxies rule over our psyches like Caligula ruled Rome. Like sycophants in the emperor’s royal court, we create a fictional public image by bowing and fawning before the ambient opinions of what is acceptable, respectable, admirable, good, just, and true. And in our rare moments of self-bolstering, we assure ourselves that we stand for eternal justice, the unassailable good, and what is absolutely right–what Luther refers to as “the Law.” In doing so, the fragile soul becomes temporarily hidden beneath self-justifying bravado. Nevertheless, fragility is ever present, sapping our soul of honesty, integrity, and authentic caring. To make matters worse, Christian sermonizers–preachers whom Cathleen Falsani calls “spiritual bullies”–man their pulpits like a captain on the bridge; they manipulate our already innate anxieties and turn timidity into terror. The perpetual fear of eternal damnation turns a fragile soul into a petrified self. We fragile ones go through the motions of life, but we don’t really live it.
Romans 8:33b, “God is the one who justifies,” should be heard by us as good news, as grace, as gospel. The gospel is aimed at liberating our selves from fragility and our souls from the endless unrolling of [spiritual] duct tape.” (pgs. 16-17)
What a week to have been away. I was on the road to Kanuga when I got the news of Tullian Tchividjian’s resignation from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and the shuttering of doors at Liberate.
As long-time readers know, Tullian has been one of Mockingbird’s most ardent fans for many years, as well as a dear personal friend. He’s spoken at a couple of our conferences, and we’ve worked together closely on a number of projects. So the news about this sudden reversal is saddening on several levels, predominantly because I/we know so many of the people involved, and none of…
Another Week Ends: Jung’s God, Smart Drummers, Game of Peanuts, Justified Magic, Disappointed Youth, and Inside Out
A mercifully truncated weekend column today, as we finish prepping for our week at Kanuga. (Probably goes without saying but next week will be light on content). Happy Father’s Day!
1. First off, an incredibly moving picture of collective grief in Charleston, via John Zahl, who was present at a citywide prayer service at Morris Brown AME Church. Our hope is truly built on nothing less:
2. The new issue of The Mockingbird is here! And copies shipped to subscribers yesterday afternoon. Order your copy, or subscription, here. By way of reminder, anyone who signs up for monthly support of Mbird not…
Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: You know you’re watching something good when it forces you to shelve your laptop. This was certainly the case this past Sunday evening, during the finale of a certain HBO fantasy drama. There are plenty of reasons why Game of Thrones gets such huge ratings, but one is surely the way it demands our full attention with its radical–and some might say overly antagonistic–plot developments. Yeesh.
It’s hard to tell when multitasking became our default mode of consumption, but it was at least a year or two before AMC started promoting their “two-screen…
I’m a couple of chapters in to a remarkable new book, Sin Boldly!: Justifying Faith for Fragile and Broken Souls by Ted Peters. It’s an approachable yet meaty treatise on the everyday value of Justification By Faith, what the author calls, “the key that unlocks the prison door, the hand that rips off the blindfold, the aloe that cools the burning gash, and the elixir that tastes of Eden.” To say that it’s shot through with our favorite themes would be a supreme understatement. Moreover, the text bristles with humor and personality, drawing on enormous wells of empathy and even…
Another Week Ends: Aspirational Fallout, Political Hating, Lonely Calvin, Dissertation Tweets, Yuccies and Christopher Lee
1. A fierce editorial by George Monbiot appeared in The Guardian this past week about the fallout of Aspirational Parenting in the UK, “aspirational” being a loose euphemism for what we call “performancism”. The tagline makes no bones: “Surrender your freedom, avoid daylight, live to work, and you too could join a toxic, paranoid elite”. The statistics about mental health he cites are as alarming as they’re intended to be, though I dare say that most could be transposed to a yank context. (I’m familiar with “nursery consultants”, but this is the first I’m hearing of $450/hr playdate coaches). Monbiot’s…
Saw Love & Mercy last night, and wow. As reviewers have been noting, it is not your average biopic, and certainly not much of a summer film, despite the source material. Which makes sense, I guess, since Brian Wilson is not your average bear. It has more in common with I’m Not There, than, say, Ray or Walk the Line, choosing as it does to focus on the two most dramatic periods of Brian’s life, his 1967 breakdown and his 1988 “comeback” (played by separate actors), rather than depict the full arc.
I’d read interviews where Brian himself decried the heaviness…
As a special bonus this time, we’re proud to get to debut the title song from the forthcoming record There Will Be Rest by the ultra-talented Blake Flattley (who you may know from such places as Our Saviour NYC). You can listen to the song at the end of the playlist, or download the song by clicking here. The release party happens in NYC on June 26.