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.
This piece was featured in Issue 7 of The Mockingbird: The Church Issue. Issue 8 is well underway!
In a recent visit to Mexico, Pope Francis spoke to a congregation of Mexican bishops and clergy. His words were harsh, to say the least. Instead of decrying the social and political upheaval of the country, or its history of human trafficking and drug violence, the pontiff pointed the finger at his subordinates, warning them of their seduction by religious power:
Do not allow yourselves to be corrupted by trivial materialism or by the seductive illusion of underhanded agreements; do not place your faith…
As the Mental Health Issue is coming together, it is becoming quite apparent that one of our chief navigators in the strange land of the human mind will be the one and only Walker Percy. This passage comes from his wildly original and heartwarming novel, The Second Coming. It is a portion of a letter written by the novel’s leading man, Will Barrett, a successful and well-respected retiree who has recently taken a fall into the “mentally unstable” category…by the grace of God. For Percy, his salvation can come only by way of the absurd–by truly examining the absurd existence he finds himself inhabiting. You will notice here that…
Death, thou wast once an uncouth hideous thing,
Nothing but bones,
The sad effect of sadder groans:
Thy mouth was open, but thou couldst not sing.
We looked on this side of thee, shooting short;
Where we did find
The shells of fledge souls left behind,
Dry dust, which sheds no tears, but may extort.
But since our Savior’s death did put some blood
Into thy face,
Thou art grown fair and full of grace,
Much in request, much sought for as a good.
For we do now behold thee gay and glad,
As at Doomsday;
When souls shall wear their new array,
And all thy bones with beauty shall be clad.
Therefore we can go die as sleep, and trust
Half that we have
Unto an honest faithful grave;
Making our pillows either down, or dust.
Another Week Ends: Working Class Christianity, Farewell Toast, High-Functioning Anxiety, Cheeto Moms, and Evil Thoughts
Click here to listen to this week’s episode of The Mockingcast, which features an interview with theologian Miroslav Volf.
1. J.D. Vance wrote an op-ed in the New York Times entitled The Bad Faith of the White Working Class. In it, Vance describes his own upbringing in not only a working class Southern Ohio town, but also an evangelical household and church community. He defends the hope and support his faith community provided, and he uses a lot of statistics to back up that this is true of a lot of children who grew up in similar circumstances.
Vance also argues…
The “performance principle” is a guiding mythology that, according to Richard Rohr, guides the first half of our religious lives. It is the mythology that suggests we are defined, more or less, by our achievement. It is also a mythology that is rooted in and propelled by fear: the expectation of punishment. Our achievements are meant to secure for us a way out of this punishment. In short, we live to prove. I don’t know a better summation of the Law.
What must happen, then, is death. Our first self must die. Thankfully, as Rohr’s meditation illustrates, this is the nature of the cross…
Another Week Ends: Dirty Jobs, 70s Moms, Debt Collectors, Doing What You Love, “Doing Life,” and Yes, Gospel Rappin’
Click here to listen to this week’s episode of The Mockingcast, which features an interview with friend/broadcaster Erik Guzman, author of The Seed: A True Myth.
1. Okay okay okay. Forget about the nay-sayers for a moment, forget about the fact that the whole game-show giveaway presentation was a bit of a false display. Maybe John Oliver was only saving people from a few nasty calls, a few petty, unusable debts—I don’t care, it was still a cool moment for television. And so much better than Oprah’s big giveaway. Forgiveness of debts long run cold. If you haven’t watched the segment,…
This amazing passage from Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology is perhaps the best reading of Mark 2 ever written. As we prepare for the Mental Health Issue, it has much to say about Christ’s office being (quite literally here) at the end of our rope. And that pastoral care–in every facet, from simple friendship to hospital chaplaincy–does not mean giving power to those who are powerless over their afflictions, but instead digging the grave they are too powerless to dig for themselves.
The pastoral dimensions for the healing of the person with schizoid characteristics can be seen in the Gospel record of the healing…
Another Week Ends: Dunham’s Addiction, Snapchat Freedom, War Vet Atonement, Toastimonies, Careerist Personality and… EVERYTHING
Click here to listen to this week’s episode of The Mockingcast, which features an interview with Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg.
1. I’ll just make a note of this, and then I’ll direct you to the Podcast above for more in depth (and hilarious) commentary, but it should also be read in tandem with DZ’s post from earlier this week about the state of “manliness” and male identity today. Lena Dunham, in the New York Daily News, made a comment about challenging herself to leave her “Sorry” addiction. As a woman, she found it had become a default form of communication—apologizing for things…
A lot of people were talking about Facebook last week. Besides Chewbacca Woman, its Trending News platform was, well, trending. Despite the fact that, in the epoch of FoxNews and HuffPo, news like this should never be news to anyone, the ‘news’ was leaked that Facebook uses hired editors over their algorithms to select which news articles are “Trending.” Now, I know, it may seem strange to you that human editors would be behind the scenes of a news organization instead of using what editors have always used—algorithms. (What is an algorithm?) Facebook, the world’s largest news distributor, was accused…
Before The Babylon Bee, there was The Wittenburg Door, a satirical Christian journal with some serious humor–a cartoon called “Dogs Who Know the Lord”, fake news headlines, a Theologian of the Year (with winners like Xena Warrior Princess and Mister T)–all pointed in cornball fashion at the Church and its bizarre inner- and outer-workings. Our mentor and spirit-guide Robert Farrar Capon was, in fact, a “Keeper of the Door”–he started a column series he called “Pietro and Madeleine,” a theological love story (of sorts). But The Door, as it later became known, also did some very serious interviews. In these interviews, they were both just playing…