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 (christchurchcville.org).
If the cover of The Hill and Wood’s brilliant new record, When You Go, looks familiar, that’s because lead singer/songwriter Sam Bush and I share not only a long friendship but an affection for the work of Australian artist Jeremy Geddes. Sam somehow got permission for Geddes’s “Ascent”, part of his series of astronaut-slash-deepseadiver-floating-in-space paintings. No dove in this one, you’ll note. Instead, tentacles of fresh, slightly tangled plant-life are breaking through the voyager’s vacuum-sealed armor as he/she/it rises into the light. That’s no coincidence either.
The way Sam tells it, this record wasn’t supposed to happen. After a couple of…
Back in 1998, my father wrote an unfashionable yet characteristically compelling little volume entitled The Protestant Face of Anglicanism. With the big anniversary finally here, it seemed like an ideal time to remind people of its existence (and merit)! Coincidentally, the book shares the title of PZ’s latest project, a tumblr devoted to, well, you guessed it. He’s provided us with a personal introduction to the project below, but first, a couple of zinging paragraphs from the final chapter of the book in question:
The Reformers saw the message of justification as a word of comfort, first and primarily, to the troubled conscience. The conscience, unable…
Can’t believe we’ve never posted a quote from Anne Long’s classic (and now sadly out of print) treatise on Listening, much of which was inspired/informed by the work of her longtime mentor and teacher, the hallowed Dr. Frank Lake. The book is a must, not just for those involved in ministry, but for anyone hoping to traverse an increasingly divided world. Here’s an excerpt from Section 2:
Looking back, we may well recall individuals who have meant something to us at particular, sometimes crucial, points on our life journey. For me, it was Sylvia Lake, wife of the well-known Dr. Frank, yet with an experience and contribution very much her own. I first met her when training as a Clinical Theology tutor. There was an honesty, humanity, wisdom and wholeness about her which were, for many of us, a ‘fleshing out’ of integrity. She was ‘fully human, fully alive’, in touch with both joy and pain. And, as I discovered in the times when she listened to me, there was a quality of loving in her that was resilient, straight and unsentimental. Gordon Allport, the Harvard psychologist, said that love as described in 1 John 4 is ‘incomparably the greatest psychotherapeutic agent — something that professional psychiatry cannot of itself create, focus nor release’.
This was so with Sylvia. Certainly it was more than a collection of human qualities that attracted me, rather a uniting of them into what felt both personal and beyond personality. She was at home in her humanity yet at the same time pointing beyond herself. At various points when I have been depressed I have turned to Sylvia and been helped, not only by her good listening skills but by something deeper–the presence of grace and God in her. I can think of others who, in similar ways, have been given to me at various, often critical, points in my life. They may or may not have been trained in counseling skills, which has helped me to see that, [in the words of Alastair Campbell] “In the last analysis there is no cleverness or accomplishment in pastoral care. It is no more (and no less) than sharing with another in the experience of grace, a surprising, unsought gift.” (pg 44-45)
Our phones were piled on top of each other on the table near the charger. Not just mine and my wife’s but those of the four friends who had dropped by for dinner. People had been showing each other photos earlier in the evening and someone had suggested we leave our devices in the kitchen while we ate. How disciplined of us!
When it was time to go, the first guest grabbed the one on top, clicked it on and… nearly jumped out of her skin. The little number next to the email icon read “2448”. Needless to say, it was…
We’ve had numerous requests to post this poem on the site, since it first appeared in the Church Issue of The Mockingbird. You can see why:
A quick excerpt from Thomas Wolfe’s The Story of a Novel, his book-length meditation on the writing process, published in 1936, ht LM:
“From the beginning—and this was one fact that in all my times of hopelessness returned to fortify my faith in my conviction—the idea, the central legend that I wished my book to express has not changed. And this central idea was this: the deepest search in life, it seemed to me, the thing that in one way or another was central to all living was man’s search to find a father, not merely the father of his flesh, not merely the lost father of his youth, but the image of a strength and wisdom external to his need and superior to his hunger, to which the belief and power of his own life could be united.” (Pg 39).
Another Week Ends: Amputee Palliatives, Burnouts, Good Riddance Day, Pig Ethics, Silence and the Penitent Magdalene
1. This first one is an absolute treasure, well deserving of a post of its own. I’m referring to “One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die” by Jon Mooallem in The NY Times Magazine. Mooallem profiles doctor and triple amputee B.J. Miller, who has become well-known for the unconventional and rather Buddhistic approach to palliative care he’s pioneered at a hospice in San Francisco. To these ears, however, Miller’s story and vocation brim with what can only be called grace in practice. Meaning, his is a case in which the experience of grace–of being loved at your darkest/ugliest/most…
Time to ring in the new year with a new playlist (and a new article for Christianity Today, “500 Years After the Reformation, We Still Feel the Pressure to Be Justified”). Gulp gulp triple gulp:
P.S. I had help on that article (from
a good family friend my favorite theologian.)
No weekender today, or next Friday, but we did record a fresh episode of The Mockingcast last night. The articles we discussed are:
1. “How Busyness Became a Bona Fide Status Symbol” by Jena McGregor in The Washington Post. We also reference this post.
2. “More People Die of Heart Disease Around Christmas” by Alice Park in Time. Really cheery, I know.
3. The standout was probably “How’s the Economy? Just Look at How Much Celebrating ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ Will Cost“, compiled by Elizabeth Olson for The NY Times.
4. We closed with Cornelius Plantinga’s review of Cicero’s How to Grow Old…
Okey doke, time for our annual round up of favorites from throughout the year. These are predominantly personal picks, albeit ones with an eye toward Mocking-resonance. TV went live last week. (Click here to check out last year’s list).
David Bowie 1991-1997. When he died, I first spent some time with his mid-to-late 70s work. And I love that stuff. Who doesn’t? Then I went back to his final few records (from hours… on), and unearthed a few gems I’d missed (“I’ll Take You There”, “Safe”). Eventually, though, I wanted something fresh, something I hadn’t heard. So I…
A bit light on the commentary today since the Year in Television ate up most of the daylight–though Lord knows we had plenty to say on an extended episode of The Mockingcast (I forget who we interviewed this time…).
1. First up, a super sweet story of grace that we missed back in October, about a 4-year old and her new best friend, ht JZ.
2. A terrific little essay from Charles Leadbetter in Aeon entitled “Nobody Is Home” on a subject that far too few people are talking about. Longing for “home”, which is often code for childhood, or love, or heaven, or God, is an…