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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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Author Archive
    
    How Many Friends Have I Really Got?

    How Many Friends Have I Really Got?

    The most awkward part of the wedding wasn’t the foot-washing, believe it or not. Uncomfortably sensual, sure, but there was also something touching about it.

    More awkward was the fact that she was there in the first place. You see, she would’ve been surprised to receive an invitation, let alone a request to be a bridesmaid. But there she was, lined up at the altar with six ladies she’d never met before, all of them wearing the same dress, standing behind an amiable young woman with whom she had at best a passing acquaintance.

    A more honest person (or less of a…

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    For the Olympically Inclined

    As the country takes a well-needed breath and digs into some synchronized diving and canoe slaloming, let us all take three and a half minutes to soak in Mary Carillo’s epic badminton rant from 2004. Your mental health will thank you:

    P.S. Deadspin followed up with Mary a couple years ago. Priceless.

    Nonadaptation – Czeslaw Milosz

    From the Polish master’s final volume of poetry, Second Space, brought to mind via Benjamin Self’s truly exquisite essay on the Impertinence of Beauty, ht KW:

    41+5K2UvKRL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_I was not made to live anywhere except in Paradise.

    Such, simply, was my genetic inadaptation.

    Here on earth every prick of a rose-thorn changed into a wound.
    whenever the sun hid behind a cloud, I grieved.

    I pretended to work like others from morning to evening,
    but I was absent, dedicated to invisible countries.

    For solace I escaped to city parks, there to observe
    and faithfully describe flowers and trees, but they changed,
    under my hand, into the gardens of Paradise.

    I have not loved a woman with my five senses.
    I only wanted from her my sister, from before the banishment.

    And I respected religion, for on this earth of pain
    it was a funereal and a propitiatory song.

    August Playlist

    Another Week Ends: Script-Flipping Danish Cops, Gracious Nominees, Minimal Anxiety, Metal Words and Bowie’s Faves

    Another Week Ends: Script-Flipping Danish Cops, Gracious Nominees, Minimal Anxiety, Metal Words and Bowie’s Faves

    1. It’s getting to the point where NPR’s Invisibilia should just give up the ghost and rebrand themselves as Grace in Practice: The Podcast. Every time I think this second season couldn’t get any more relevant, they come out with an episode like “Flip the Script”, essentially an hour-length exploration of the psychology of imputation.

    They open with a jaw-dropping story of a backyard BBQ in DC being interrupted by a stranger wielding a gun, threatening harm unless he’s given money, pronto. The couples in attendance don’t have any cash on them, and before they panic, one of the ladies offers…

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    How to Be a Person in a World of Divorce Delusions

    How to Be a Person in a World of Divorce Delusions

    I first ran across the name “Heather Havrilesky” back in 2011, when The New York Times Magazine published a column of hers comparing the tv shows Friday Night Lights and Glee. What she wrote knocked me flat, and formed the basis of one of our first posts to go (relatively) viral. Here was someone musing on our favorite themes in a national outlet, with a wit and compassion that we could only dream of mustering.

    Since then, seldom a week has passed when I haven’t been on the lookout for her by-line. Because no matter what the topic, Havrilesky’s knack for…

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    A Potentially Massive Misjudgment (about Dreaming)

    A Potentially Massive Misjudgment (about Dreaming)

    “But What If We’re Wrong?” is the fascinating question that Chuck Klosterman asks in his new book (of the same name). He spends roughly 250 pages attempting to “think about the present as if it were the past”, meaning, he’s looking to uncover what we’ll look back on in 30, 50, 100 years and be shocked/embarrassed by the casual certitude with which we accepted it as truth. That is, what will our future generations thumb their noses at about our present day, the way we thumb our noses about, say, pesticides? What that we think is second-rate will be remembered…

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    Optimizing the Sabbath (One Pillow at a Time)

    Optimizing the Sabbath (One Pillow at a Time)

    The following originally appeared as a guest post to Amy Julia Becker’s blog over at Christianity Today. Some readers may notice a few, er, congruencies with past Mbird posts:

    A couple of years ago, The New York Times ran a remarkably astute editorial about the state of American sleep. Apparently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently declared insomnia to be a full-blown public health epidemic. The “Sleep Industry”—a $32 billion/year endeavor—has responded. They’ve introduced a spate of new soporific technology, from pills and teas and chocolates to bracelets and mattresses. (The number one selling paid app on iTunes this…

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    The Secret to Long-Term Relationships: Insanity?

    The Secret to Long-Term Relationships: Insanity?

    We’ve all been there. You say something to a friend or family member or spouse that seems innocuous. “Have you seen my sunglasses?”. “I may have to postpone our lunch.” Or maybe you do something thoughtless but minor. You forget to return an email. You borrow a piece of clothing without asking. The response you get is vicious–way out of proportion with whatever you’ve said or done.

    This happens with alarming frequency in relationships, especially romantic ones. Soon both parties have shifted into “combat mode” and the conflict has escalated to painful heights. Your action or comment has triggered something significant in the other party, what psychologists…

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    From the Archives: In Praise of Guilty Pleasures

    From the Archives: In Praise of Guilty Pleasures

    I brought two books with me on vacation last week: a collection of Jonathan Franzen essays and the recent Dark Tower prequel by Stephen King. One guess as to which one I read. That’s right: both books stayed shut as I inhaled 20 or so Batman comics on my iPad and caught up on Beach Boys message boards. Guilty pleasures in other words.

    So upon returning to the world of ‘serious’ reading I was pleasantly surprised to discover a wonderful little piece in The New Yorker by critic Arthur Krystal, tracing the history and appeal of literary guilty pleasures. He touches…

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    Calvin in Hobbes in 3D

    Wow.

    When the Solution Isn’t a Solution

    When the Solution Isn’t a Solution

    It’s only July, I know, but the 2016 Podcast Episode of the Year can already be announced. I wish I could give the nod to The Mockingcast or PZP (“Ecumenical Apocalypse” tied with “Cook’d Book” for runner-up, and Gladwell’s “The Lady Vanishes” took bronze), but alas, top honors go to Invisibilia’s “The Problem with the Solution”, which first aired this past Friday, ht CWZ & LM.

    The cast takes a lengthy look at a place we’ve written about a couple of times before, the town of Geel in Belgium, where instead of being cooped up in a facility mental patients live…

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