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.
1) A provocative new study from The National Post sheds some new light on contemporary understandings of bullying in schools and beyond. The focus of the conversation stems from the (argued) misconception that bullies are socially maladapted, due to some underlying issues at home. The role of schools, then, is to combat these tendencies with positive and negative reinforcements upon their behavior—carrots and sticks.
The new study in Canada finds, to the contrary, that bullies are better adapted to their environment—more socially adept than their peers, less likely to be depressed, and more likely to have higher social status and self-esteem…
1) A trio of articles surfaced recently about the psychological relationships between work ethic and mental health. It appears that anxiety is on the rise, especially for achievers. The first one of note, from The Atlantic, introduces the phenomenon of “John Henryism,” claiming that there is a paradoxical health risk to those who happen to work really hard to find success. A study was done with a group of underprivileged kids from low-income neighborhoods, who exhibited strong academic performance and self-control. While this self-control and determination led them to more opportunities beyond their circumstances, their health suffered because of it.
Well, Modern Love’s Daniel Jones is certainly not on vacation. This past Friday’s installment of our favorite relationships column was a heat-seeking missile into the dark depths of marital skepticism. Surprisingly, though, the article does not object to marital skepticism–it normalizes it. Ada Calhoun writes about her own 10+ years of marriage and the difficulties that quickly skimmed off the fluff of most wedding toasts you hear–“I will never let you down,” “You will always be my best friend,” etc. Strangely enough, Calhoun indicates the inherent optimism of these kinds of toasts as part of the problem. We feel entitled to their sentiments, so much so…
For this fifth issue of the magazine, we had the privilege of talking to author and journalist Philip Yancey about the message of grace in today’s churches. We also got a chance to re-print a small sample of his most recent book Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News?.
To order a copy of The Forgiveness Issue, look no further than here. There’s more where this comes from.
In May of 2015, the Pew Research Center released its latest findings on the “changing religious landscape” of the United States. According to the survey, 70% of Americans identified as Christian in 2014,…
A buzzword like “character” could mean just about anything you want it to mean. Like a lot of reclaimed, lofty words from Ancient Greece or Rome — virtue, beauty, culture — character has picked up a lot of fuzz along the way, enough to become a proverbial lightning rod for just about any self-help guru and pop academic and thought-leader under the sun. Which is why David Brooks’ newest title, The Road to Character, did not exactly grab me like the earlier Bobos in Paradise. It sounded too much like the kind of book a dad pushes on an eighteen-year-old graduate. Or an HR executive plants in her office giftbags.
But Brooks is…
We had been married for six or seven years
when my wife, standing in the kitchen one afternoon, told me
that she screams underwater when she swims—
that, in fact, she has been screaming for years
into the blue chlorinated water of the community pool
where she does laps every other day.
Buttering her toast, not as if she had been
not as if I should consider myself
personally the cause of her screaming,
nor as if we should perform an act of therapy
right that minute on the kitchen table,
—casually, she told me,
and I could see her turn her square face up
to take a gulp of oxygen,
1) One of the books on the Mockingbird bookshelf right now is Violence Unveiled, by Gil Bailie, which looks into the philosophy of René Girard. A prime focus of the book stems from Girard’s “Violence and the Sacred,” where Girard looks at the cross of Christ as the origin of human concern for ‘the victim.’ This cruciform concern, since then, has headlined much of history. Bailie writes:
“However savagely we behave, and however wickedly and selectively we wield this moral gavel, protecting or rescuing innocent victims has become the cultural imperative everywhere the biblical influence has been felt. Both our Mother…
Nicholas Carr has a new book out, called The Glass Cage: Automation and Us, and he opens it by describing his yearning as a young driver for a car with an automatic transmission. It was a new thing at the time, something which allowed drivers the novel experience of multitasking. Those who had automatics had an extra hand for a coke or an eight-track, and an extra foot for thumping the bass line of their favorite Led Zeppelin cut.
The point that this illustration seems downright prehistoric is intended. It was only 40 years ago. 40 years ago we imagined the future with…
A beautiful scene from the Black Country poet, who was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection in 2014.
When you found me there was nothing beautiful about me.
I wasn’t even human
kicked out into the snow on Maundy Thursday
when all the world was sorrow,
when old girls’ hands were raw as they cracked
the ice on their birdbaths,
when the priest wept in Saint Jude the Apostle
as he knelt to wash the feet of an altar boy.
I was filth,
running away from God knows what,
my haunches sore with bruises,
my spine knuckling the ruin of my coat.
Running through the town
away from the horses
who bowed their…
Another list from Issue 4, this one covers all that the sports world could not leave behind:
It would seem that the reach of ESPN’s 30 for 30 project surprised even ESPN. One might have imagined that a selection of human-interest stories and documentaries from the nether regions of the sports world could have some cult potential for the multitude of fans out there, but people are almost always surprised to know that there are more than just 30 of these documentaries under the franchise’s belt. They are also not 30 minutes long, another misconception. No, the reason for the name 30…
Another free look at our Work and Play Issue. Take our word for it, though…it’s better in print!
One of the great theological books we discovered last year was Nimi Wariboko’s The Pentecostal Principle, a book which unpacks how the Holy Spirit creates the capacity for new beginnings in human life and communities. He views true religion as play, because it goes beyond the instrumentalism (do this to achieve that) of the Law to make room for spontaneity. According to Wariboko, our ordinary world is constantly open to the Spirit’s disruption with new initiatives, feelings, experiences, communities, and patterns of thought….
In the midst of all the research for the upcoming Forgiveness Issue, this beauty surfaced.
If you are not to become a monster,
you must care what they think.
If you care what they think,
how will you not hate them,
and so become a monster
of the opposite kind? From where then
is love to come—love for your enemy
that is the way of liberty?
From forgiveness. Forgiven, they go
free of you, and you of them;
they are to you as sunlight
on a green branch. You must not
think of them again, except
as monsters like yourself,
pitiable because unforgiving.