David Zahl is the director of Mockingbird Ministries and editor-in-chief of the Mockingbird blog. He and his wife Cate currently reside in Charlottesville, VA, with their two sons, Charlie and Cabell, where David also serves on the staff of Christ Episcopal Church.
- Yes – McAlmont & Butler
- Magical Spring – Ride
- Outdoor Miner – Wire
- Looking for Space – Evan Dando
- Clair – Gilbert O’Sullivan
- Deirdre – The Beach Boys
- Fallin’ in Love – American Spring
- Don’t Worry Baby – Bryan Ferry
- Who Did That To You – John Legend
- Just Beneath the Surface – Dawes
- Romeo’s Tune – Steve Forbert
- Topanga Canyon – John Phillips
- The Last Supper – Johnny Cash
- The Boy Who Never Cried – Steve Earle
- Foot of the Mountain – A-Ha
- Dresden – OMD
- Song for Zula – Phosphorescent
- Macarthur Park – Richard Harris
How do you write about the reality of the human condition in concrete terms without coming off as sanctimonious or a total downer? I don’t know, but I think Tim Kreider may. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was so impressed with (and addressed by) his essay “The Busy Trap” that appeared in The NY Times recently that they immediately ordered his essay collection, We Learn Nothing, which came out in paperback last month. Hard to imagine there’s another volume out there with endorsements from both Judd Apatow and David Foster Wallace, not to mention an astonishing opening…
In preparation, don’t miss 53 Arrested Development Jokes You Probably Missed.
I saw a tree inside a tree
as if the leaves had livelier ghosts.
I pressed my face as close
to the pane as I could get
to watch that fitful, fluent spirit
that seemed a single being undefined
or countless beings of one mind
haul its strange cohesion
beyond the limits of my vision
over the house heavenwards.
Of course I knew those leaves were birds.
Of course that old tree stood
exactly as it had and would
(but why should it seem fuller now?)
and though a man’s mind might endow
even a tree with some excess
of life to which a man seems witness,
that life is not the life of men.
And that is where the joy came in.
To listen to Christian doing an astounding reading of an astounding poem, go here.
We’ve gotten a lot of mileage over the years from graduation speeches. Perhaps because they tend to be so long on law and short on grace–i.e. full of exhortation rather than comfort–that when they’re good, they really stand out. Among our favorite “anti-commencement addresses” would have to be those by Bill Watterson, JK Rowling, Conan O’Brien, Jonathan Franzen and, of course, David Foster Wallace. With schools around the country gearing up for their big days, I figured it was time to toss another log on the fire, in the form of the hilarious and deceptively wise words Stephen Colbert delivered…
I haven’t been watching American Idol this season, but that’s about to change. In Sunday’s NY Times Magazine, Heather Havrilesky made a very convincing case for the show’s relevance, claiming that the current season has turned into an authentic instance of our collective idolatry of authenticity (pun couldn’t possibly be more intended) being worked out in real time, on a national stage, via the conflict between judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. Their dynamic makes for a petri-dish of cultural law par excellence, that is, in their back-and-forth we see the Should’s and Shouldn’ts of the pop landscape articulated with…
Capping off a refreshingly funny week on the site, a new classic from America’s Finest News Source, ht JD:
That’s right; reports indicate that you, Carl Mendel, 33, of Dayton, Ohio need to wake up, get moving, and pull yourself out of this weird funk you’ve been stuck in for, what is it, sources confirm, three years now? Those familiar with the situation said that we all care about you, Carl, and experts claim it’s time you take charge and break out of this cycle of apathy that’s preventing you from living up to your potential.
“You know, life’s short, Carl,” said…
If for whatever reason you are ever asked to address a group of college students, I’ve found that few things hit home with as much depth or laughter as the first ten minutes of Noah Baumbach’s overstuffed yet incredibly charming debut film, Kicking and Screaming. Some of the trappings might have dated a little, but the humor holds up, as does, more importantly, the content. The opening depicts a bunch of college seniors moping around a table at their graduation party, lamenting the loss of their identity and contemplating the uncertainty of their future(s). Who am I now that I’m…
An ingenious prank from Jimmy Kimmel, in which the Law of Cool is exposed in all its hilarity and absurdity and severity. But lest we pick on hipsters unfairly, this dynamic plays out just as blatantly in Bar Harbor as it does in Marin County or Austin. When confronted with an attribute with which we’ve identified ourselves, we will lie before admitting ignorance. Reminds me of that ultra-cool Stephen Merritt song about “the books you read, and the books you said you read”:
There is so much about The Beach Boys that is hard to believe. Toward the bottom of the list (but still on it) is the fact that “Don’t Worry Baby” was originally released as the B-side of “I Get Around”. Some of us consider “Don’t Worry Baby” to be the definition of a perfect record, as beautiful as anything “America’s band”, or any other, ever released, and to think of it playing second fiddle boggles the mind. What accounts for its greatness? First, and most obviously, “Don’t Worry Baby” boasts one of the most memorable opening couplets of all time,…
I wish I could post the entire “Yeshua” chapter in Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic. It has to be the freshest, most vivid, gut-level and just plain exciting writing about Jesus since, well, Robert Capon. Though unlike most of what Capon wrote, Unapologetic is less a work of theology than an extended exercise in “new persuasive words”–something for which Spufford has a serious knack. A gift even. Since there are simply too many remarkable passages to choose from, I figured we might start with his description of what Christ had to say about self-righteousness (and self-justification), which functions more or less like…
From the far star points of his pinned extremities,
cold inched in—black ice and squid ink—
till the hung flesh was empty. Lonely in that void
even for pain, he missed his splintered feet,
the human stare buried in his face.
He ached for two hands made of meat
he could reach to the end of.
In the corpse’s core, the stone fist of his heart
began to bang on the stiff chest’s door,
and breath spilled back into that battered shape. Now
it’s your limbs he long to flow into–
from the sunflower center in your chest
outward–as warm water
shatters at birth, rivering every way.
Originally published in Poetry, January 2006, the revised version above was collected in Sinners Welcome: Poems.