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: Watterson Speaks, Failed Fruit, Liberate Vids, Saturday Morning L/G, Merciless Felines, and Paradise City
The new issue of The Mockingbird is out the door and holy moly is it awesome. In fact, I dare say it’s the best one yet (#scorekeeping #ethanrichardsonismyhero). But we need your help publicizing! There are some promotional copies available, so if you know of someone/anyone who might help us get the word out or distribute, drop us a line at email@example.com, and we’ll pop a copy in the mail post-haste. Otherwise, once you get it, tell the world. We really couldn’t be prouder of this thing. And if you’re wondering what the quote on the inner cover is this time, wonder no…
Looking through our archives the other day, I was surprised to discover that we’ve never posted an excerpt from The Collects of Thomas Cranmer by Paul Zahl and Fred Barbee. It’s a wonderful little book, really more of a devotional, and not just for those who are interested in Cranmer’s prayers or the Anglican tradition. Take for instance the meditation on the collect for the Second Sunday in Lent (this past Sunday):
The Collect: Almighty God, which doest see that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; keep thou us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls;…
From his absolutely mandatory collection from last year, Idiot Psalms:
The breakfast was adequate, the fast
itself sub-par. We gluttons, having
modified our habits only somewhat
within the looming Lenten dark, failed
quite to shake our thick despair, an air
that clamped the heart, made moot the prayer.
As dim disciples having seen the light,
we supplied to it an unrelenting gloom.
Wipe your chin. I’m dying here
in Omaha, amid the flat, surrounded
by the beefy, land-locked generations,
the river, and the river’s rancid shore.
O what I wouldn’t give for a lifting,
cool salt breeze, a beach, a Labrador.
Another Week Ends: Atheist Fears, Christian Outings, Fame Shame, Self-Dating, Happiness Conspiracies, Noel-isms and Magnificent Ambersons
1. British thinker John Gray is at it again, dressing down the New Atheists in a powerful long-read for The Guardian, “What Scares the New Atheists”. There’s a lot in the essay, but one of his primary beefs seems to be the conflation in NA circles of science with politics, specifically their politics, which are curiously uniform. If it sounds familiar, that’s because Gray has gone on record before to debunk the sanguine notion that science is immune to ideological co-option–as evidenced by even the most cursory review of history (eugenics, etc). For him, the main tenets of liberalism simply cannot be divorced from their theistic…
Better late than never: This past week I came across a remarkable (and remarkably witty) article by Helen Rittelmeyer Andrews, published last January, on the subject of “AA Envy” that seems almost ripped from the pages of Grace in Addiction. Andrews explores why Alcoholics Anonymous gets a free pass in contemporary society when pretty much every other organization/movement that talks openly about “moral failure” and abstention from traditional vices inspires ridicule, contempt or indifference–at least in elite metropolitan circles. Indeed, if NY Times articles like this one are to be trusted, then the inventories and amend-making and low-as-you-can-go anthropology (and monergistic…
It’s a Lenten Britpop girl-group extravaganza!
A killer, seasonally appropriate quote from Werner Elert’s classic pamphlet “Law and Gospel”:
“Obviously the words of Christ [from the Sermon on the Mount] cannot be twisted in order to say that by heightening the demands of the law he sought only to demonstrate the impossibility of fulfilling it, and thus from the very outset to induce his hearers to capitulate. The law is and remains a demand. It is inviolably valid. Not an iota will pass from it. It ought to be and must be fulfilled (Matt. 5:18).
“It is another question, however, whether with this heightened interpretation Christ intended to say that his hearers actually had fulfilled the law. If he really did intend to say that, then there would be a contradiction between him and Paul. But that would be an even worse twisting of his words than the previous one. Exactly the opposite is correct. The proof is found precisely in his treatment of the decalogue commandments. For when he transposes the criteria for fulfillment from the external to the internal, he presupposes his hearers know what feelings of hatred and evil lusts are. Here we already have the lex semper accusat. What murder and adultery are, in the sense of acts that transgress the commandments, one can also learn merely by being told. However, what hatred and evil lusts are we could not even imagine if we had not experienced them ourselves. Accordingly, for the man who receives the heightened interpretation of the decalogue as validly directed toward himself, it exposes his own inner nature, and demonstrates to him that his opposition to God’s law is not only possible, but actual. At that point no further self-examination is necessary. The man who understands what Christ means by hatred and impure desires testifies by the mere fact of this understanding that he is already guilty of this transgression.
“The law always accuses. Christ exempted no one from this verdict. Proof of this can be seen in his call, directed to everyone, for repentance from the heart (Makr 1:15 in conjunction with Luke 13:3-5). The “Our Father”, designed for all to pray, presupposes also that all are guilty (Matt. 6:12). Therefore also in the interpretation which the law receives from Christ it always exposes man’s sin. There is no situation imaginable, so long as the law reigns over us, where it would not exercise this accusatory function.”
And then, one Friday morning in February, a front-runner for Onion article of the year emerged, pun intended, ht BJ:
Another wonderful passage from the introduction of our 2014 NYC Conference speaker’s Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense.
Take the well-known slogan on the atheist bus in London. I know, I know, that’s an utterance by the hardcore hobbyists of unbelief, but in this particular case they’re pretty much stating the ordinary wisdom of everyday disbelief. The atheist bus says: “There’s probably no God. So stop worrying and enjoy your life.” All right: which word here is the questionable one, the aggressive one, the one that parts company with recognisable human experience so fast it doesn’t…