About Ethan Richardson

Ethan Richardson is a contributing staff member for Mockingbird. Born and raised in Lexington, KY, he graduated from the University of Virginia in 2009, majoring in Religious Studies and English. In June of 2011, he finished two years of teaching 5th grade in the inner city of New Orleans, and now lives in Charlottesville, VA and works for Mockingbird along with serving at Christ Episcopal Church.

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Author Archive

    Lucinda Williams Needs Protection (Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone)

    Excuse the Americana interruption, but with a new double album out (next week), amazingly titled Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, Lucinda Williams seems to be singing from the basement, looking up. And so we need to listen! The twenty-track album from the famed songwriter is streamable on NPR right now, and is worth the listen, regardless of whether or not you find her Louisiana gruff too gruff. The album opens with the title track, which is actually called “Compassion,” a poem her poet-mentor-father wrote: “Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it / What…

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    Step Into Their World: The Parallel Universes of Alzheimer’s and Improv

    By following the rules of improvisation, one family finds love and humor within the wilderness of dementia.

    The episode “Magic Words” aired last month on This American Life and in it you’ll hear “Rainy Days and Mondys,” the story of Karen Stobbe, her husband Mondy, and her mother Virginia, who recently moved into their house because she has dementia.

    Motivation that Works: Colbert Introduces the Pavlovian Fitness Band

    Sadly, this actually exists (ht BFG).

    Love in Creature Form

    This week, I had the privilege to interview the man responsible for one of our favorite sources of grace in practice, the Editor of the Modern Love column in the New York Times, Daniel Jones. In a ninety-minute conversation we talked about some of the favorite Modern Love columns, about the reasons couples fall in love and the reasons couples cheat, as well as some of his thoughts on online dating and the new delusions of control offered us in the tech-savvy and convenience-seeking age. (We will be publishing the interview in the next issue of The Mockingbird, which is…

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    “Because You’re a Good Priest”: Calvary and the Ministry of an Open Heart

    In an interview about this most recent project with writer/director John Michael McDonagh (for whom he also starred in The Guard), Brendan Gleeson explains that there was one peculiar element of putting on the cassock of a priest. He says that McDonagh directed him to view the garb as a kind of armor, a self-contained defense of faith in a faithless world. But what he found surprising, given the story of Calvary, and the fact that his corpulent character filled that cassock, was that the “armor” of God spilled over. Instead of self-containment, the priest’s black cassock was “an opening…

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    Another Week Ends: Bloated Syllabi, the Jeremiah Option, Better Call Saul, Brangelina Vows, and New Culinary Imperatives

    1) Our friend at The Dish, Matt Sitman, gave a poignant response to the question of Christianity in modern life. As opposed to Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option”, where stalwarts of Christian virtue create a new community devoid of distractions, Sitman prefers the “Jeremiah Option,” as described by Samuel Goldman, that life as God intended is meant not in escaping Babylon, but in building our houses there. Sitman (hat-tipping our beloved Thornton Wilder) looks to what makes Christianity fundamentally unique anyways—not the stringency of time-honored virtues (many religions honor them) but the power of God to forgive.

    Goldman gets at something important…

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    Frederick Buechner on the Confusion of Faces

    A great section from Frederick Buechner’s The Hungering Dark, a book of meditations on the light that can be found in the darkness of doubt. Reminiscent of a staircase invention we’ve heard of before…

    There is a silly little jingle that goes something like this:

    My face I don’t mind it
    For I am behind it,
    It’s the people out front get the jar.

    But, on the contrary, the person inside gets the jar too. You catch sight of your face in the mirror when you are brushing your teeth in the morning or combing your hair, and often…

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    The Vices of Leisure by the Virtue of Speed

    Another missive from the busy trap. This one comes from Brigid Schulte’s book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. In the age of humblebragging, about the achievements you’ve undergone, the vacations you’ve eye-rollingly sped through, the go-gurt you’ve got jammed in the glove compartment, Schulte reminds us that this talk is all about the righteousness of purpose which, in the modern parlance, is held up by the metric of time. And, she notes, it’s not just for the frenzied East Coast corporate lawyer–people in North Dakota are crunched, too. She takes a trip to Fargo…

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    You Are Definitely Not Your Introspections

    In last week’s Op-Ed, David Brooks asked whether or not “knowing thyself” is possible and, if it is, where it can be separated from the pitfalls and stagnation of narcissism. Self-awareness, argues Brooks, is a “perfect breeding ground for self-deception, rationalization and motivated reasoning.” This happens when we get a little too close to the man in the mirror, which often drives us to oversimplifications or “ruminations”–the despairing paralysis of one’s own fears and anxieties. Either one makes us dangerous self-perceivers. We either become nighthawk depressives or impervious bigots. The best way to “know thyself,” Brooks astutes, is to take…

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    Another Week Ends: Play Week, The Blame Instinct, Calvary, Parenting Trends, and God Save the Girl

    1) It is “Play Week” at NPR, so let’s have some fun! Among the legions of playground research data, lab rat tickle tests (not joking), and zany stories about parents at “amusement parks”, play is becoming the boon of brain science, the absence of which we feel a threat to the very health of a nation. Erik Erikson, Brigid Schulte, eat your heart out! Tag this with busyness, successaholism, moms “having it all,” you name it, play is really just the current word for freedom—from demand, from time, from broccoli. It is the inspired no-where of imagination, inquiry, and social…

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    Will-lessly (Happy 80th, Wendell Berry)

    In honor of the man’s 80th birthday, a poem from his newest collection of Sabbath poems, This Day.

    by-j-b-hallWill-lessly the leaves fall,
    are blown, coming at last
    to the ground and to their rest.
    Among them in their coming down
    purposely the birds pass,
    of all the unnumbered ways
    choosing one, until
    they like the leaves will
    will-lessly fall. Thus freed
    by gravity, every one
    enters the soil, conformed
    to the craft and wisdom, the behest
    of God’s appointed vicar,
    our mother and judge, who binds
    us each to each, the largest
    to the least, in the family of all
    the creatures: great Nature
    by whom all are changed, none
    are wasted, none are lost.
    Supreme artist of this
    our present world, her works
    live and move, love
    their places and their lives in them.
    And this is praise to the highest
    knowledge by the most low.

    Raleigh W. Hayes Snubs the General Confession

    Another look into the redemptive story of the Prodigal Son’s elder brother, Raleigh W. Hayes, and his mischievous minister father, the Episcopal minister Earley Hayes.