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 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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
In honor of the man’s 80th birthday, a poem from his newest collection of Sabbath poems, This Day.
Will-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.
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.
What happens when we lose the final frontier? A look into the necessary uselessness of sleep.
From the American poet laureate’s collection, Sestets.
There is a consolation beyond nomenclature
of what is past
Or is about to pass, though I don’t know what it is.
Someone, somewhere, must, and this is addressed to him.
Come on, Long Eyes, crack the book.
Thumb through the pages and stop at the one with the golden script.
Breathe deeply and lay it on me,
that character with the luminous half-life.
A look into the new Netflix documentary on the scrappy, beer-belching, independent pro baseball team, Portland’s Mavericks, and the joke they pulled on Major League Baseball.
Another Week Ends: Nick Cave, Cuddle Parties, Prognostalgia, Wine Snobbery, The Vicar of Baghdad, and the Post-Christian Politics of Jesus
1) “The Vicar of Baghdad” is a three-part series over at Vice, and it’s difficult to put into words the (foolish? amazing?) courage of Vicar Andrew White, an English-born Anglican priest who walks with a cane, and who has now served in Baghdad’s central districts for fourteen years, running St. George’s Episcopal Anglican Church, as well as running a clinic for locals and, most interestingly, working as a intermediary between Sunni and Shia leaders for peace and dialogue. It’s a real-life parable (ht JZ).
2) There were several au contraires to the presumption that we “live by looks” this week. Or,…
It is now five years since the Common Core State Standards were introduced, the newest governmental answer to educational plight in America, and still it seems that no one really knows what they are—and if they do know what they are, chances are they don’t like them. It has been called (critically) a “one size fits all” policy, a nation-wide rubric for assessing whether America’s public school kids are learning what they ought to be learning. As Andrew Ferguson wrote this week in the Standard Weekly, it is one more reform scientifically stamped by the Gates Foundation’s “technocrats” and “educationists”,…