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
    Infidelity in the Age of Transparency? But Why?

    Infidelity in the Age of Transparency? But Why?

    Slate interviewed (the fascinating) therapist Esther Perel a couple weeks ago, the new age Dr. Ruth, the “sexual healer” of Mating in Captivity, about her most recent project, Affairs in the Age of Transparency. In this new research, she speaks solely to patients involved in extramarital affairs, the vast majority of whom describe themselves as “content” in their marriages. In being asked whether or not her patients are interested in leaving their marriages, the vast majority say ‘no.’ Why, then, the infidelity? Why do we cheat, when today we are asked to be more honest than ever about our lives—more…

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    D.G. Myers on the Art of Dying

    A powerful (and very Holy Week-appropriate) reflection on death came from literary critic D.G. Myers, who faces his own mortality in the throes of prostate cancer. This was originally uncovered by our friends over at The Dish.

    tumblr_kvtcvdVG4q1qzkyblo1_500Dying is the problem, not death. As an Orthodox Jew, I believe with perfect faith in the resurrection of the dead, but until that happens, death is the termination of consciousness. No peeking back into life. I won’t get to keep a scorecard of who is crying at my funeral, who is dry-eyed, who never bothered to show up. If I want someone to cry at my funeral, I need to patch things up with him before the last weak images flicker out.

    In the past few weeks I have been approaching ex-friends whom I have damaged to ask their forgiveness. I’ve been behaving, in short, as if dying were a twelve-step program. Step 8: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.” Step 9: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” Not that I mind having enemies. One person whom I approached recently accused me of “basking in self-importance,” which is one possible way, I suppose, of describing the tireless knowledge that death is near. But there are other persons, including some with whom I have had very public fallings-out, whom I don’t want as enemies when I pass away. To die without accepting responsibility for the damage I have done to relationships that were once meaningful to me would be shameful and undeniably self-important.

    Another Week Ends: Normcore, Eterni.me, Colbert’s Late Show Prospects, Post-Grad Advice, and “I Love You, Buts”

    Another Week Ends: Normcore, Eterni.me, Colbert’s Late Show Prospects, Post-Grad Advice, and “I Love You, Buts”

    Real quick before we get going: Conference recordings should be up early next week! Videos will roll out gradually after that. Also, we’ve pulled Eden and Afterward to make some final changes. Look for a release announcement in the next ten days.

    1) Even getting out of the game is part of the game, now. In fact, it is the game de rigueur. If you thought you weren’t in a fashion trend, if you didn’t know a group existed for people who were actually dressed just like most people, now there is, and you are, and it is the innest…

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    What’s Oppressive about My Opinion? Millennial Paralysis in the Post-Critical Age

    What’s Oppressive about My Opinion? Millennial Paralysis in the Post-Critical Age

    Over at the New York Times‘ Opinionator, Zachary Fine ponders the millennial predicament of pluralism, and the pressure all 20- and 30-somethings face to inherit opinions that can most easily fit into the “new orthodoxy of multiculturalism.” Fine notes that pluralism is often gracefully self-described as ” faithfully disinterested” or “energetically engaged with diversity,” but that its impact has created a kind of analysis paralysis. What can one say, we wonder, without wakening the beehive of multicultural non-violence? How can one have an opinion, when having one means being a bigot? The generosity of pluralism, in theory, seems to create…

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    Robert Farrar Capon and the Anti-Heroic Church

    From his take on the Parable of the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-8).

    And there, if you will, is the ultimate dilemma of the church. The one thing it doesn’t dare try to sell–for fear of being laughed out of town–turns out to be the only thing it was sent to sell. But because it more often than not caves in to its fear of ridicule, it gives the world the perennial spectacle of an institution eager to peddle anything but its authentic merchandise. I can stand up in the pulpit and tell people that God is angry, mean, and nasty; I can tell them he is so good they couldn’t possibly come within a million miles of him; and I can lash them into a frenzy of trying to placate him with irrelevant remorse and bogus good behavior–with sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings, all of which are offered by the law (Heb 10:8); but I cannot stand there and tell them the truth that he no longer cares a fig for their sacred guilt or their precious lists of good deeds, responsible outlooks, and earnest intentions. I can never just say to them that God has abolished all those oppressive, godly requirements in order that he might grant them free acceptance by his death on the cross. Because when I do that, they can conclude only one of two things: either that I am crazy or that God is. But alas, God’s sanity is the ultimate article of their non-faith. Therefore, despite Scripture’s relentless piling up of proof that he is a certifiable nut–that he is the Crazy Eddie of eternity, whose prices are insane–it always means that I am the one who gets offered a ticket to the funny farm.

    Which is all right, I guess. After the unjust steward, the unjust judge, and the God who hasn’t got the integrity to come down from the cross and zap the world into shape, it’s a nice, rough approximation of justification by grace alone, through faith.

    A Cure for Our Self-Knowledge: Why We’ll Always Want Our Milk in the Same Sippy Cup

    A Cure for Our Self-Knowledge: Why We’ll Always Want Our Milk in the Same Sippy Cup

    The Paris Review’s (stunning) most recent issue features interviews with quite the coupling: Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and our favorite psychoanalyst, Adam Phillips. Both men talk about the art of writing, Phillips using a lot of the dialectic idioms you seem him using on paper all the time. Things like, “Symptoms are forms of self-knowledge.” Or, “Analysis should be the need not to know yourself.”

    That being said, Phillips covers a lot of ground, including his own childhood, the books that formed him, the initial interests that brought him to the analysands’ chair. But mainly the conversation covers the breadth…

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    Francis Spufford on Christianity’s Attention to Waste

    Francis Spufford on Christianity’s Attention to Waste

    In reading the gospels, it is difficult to separate the person Jesus from the images and stories that have been built up in our own memories and readings. It is hard to shell, to un-husk, the historical account from the gloss that our re-readings and re-tellings have rendered. It is impossible not to heroize with story the death and resurrection of a man who is also God’s son. To make His crucifixion the Crucifixion.

    But to do so, as (our conference speaker!) Francis Spufford says here, is to miss the point of Christianity’s unique position on the everyday tragedies of life,…

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    Wendell Berry, “Marriage” (1968)

    sleeping-woman-meditation-1904.jpg!BlogFor Tanya (his wife)

    How hard it is for me, who live
    in the excitement of women
    and have the desire for them
    in my mouth like salt. Yet
    you have taken me and quieted me.
    You have been such light to me
    that other women have been
    your shadows. You come near me
    with the nearness of sleep.
    And yet I am not quiet.
    It is to be broken. It is to be
    torn open. It is not to be
    reached and come to rest in
    ever. I turn against you,
    I break from you, I turn to you.
    We hurt, and are hurt,
    and have each other for healing.
    It is healing. It is never whole.

    NYC Preview: National Lampoon: Stephen Colbert and Ancient Pulpit of Satire

    NYC Preview: National Lampoon: Stephen Colbert and Ancient Pulpit of Satire

    Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own.  –Jonathan Swift

    He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’” (Mk 4.11-12)

    In a Google Talk in 2012, Stephen Colbert spoke (without his character) on the nature of satire, specifically his kind of satire, and the intended “clanging against the world”…

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    Anger at Time Stolen, A Curious Assumption

    From Lewis’ Screwtape Letters (ht LB)

    9780394815008_custom-606a12ba6a12795a7752919b06aa8b396ccb571e-s6-c30“Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied. The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured, and as a result, ill-tempered. Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. It is the unexpected visitor (when he looked forward to a quiet evening), or the friend’s talkative wife (turning up when he looked forward to a tete-a-tete with the friend), that threw him out of gear. Now he is not yet so uncharitable or slothful that these small demands on his courtesy are in themselves too much for it. They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feel that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own’. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours. Let him feel as a grievous tax that portion of this property which he has to make over to his employers, and as a generous donation that further portion which he allows to religious duties. But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright.”

    Another Week Ends: Lenten Anthropology Meets Carl Rogers, New Community, Charlie Kaufman, Oscars Morality, Auden (Again), and Katims on Crying

    Another Week Ends: Lenten Anthropology Meets Carl Rogers, New Community, Charlie Kaufman, Oscars Morality, Auden (Again), and Katims on Crying

    1) A particularly Lenten roundup this week, starting with this very beautiful, concise reflection from Will Willimon over at OnFaith, called “Good News! You’re a Sinner and Lent Is Here,” which deals primarily with the deep relief that comes in knowing yourself as a sinner. (Reminds us a little of someone we get to meet in NYC this spring, who has spoken quite frankly about the “cruel optimism” of our contemporary world.) The truth is, more often than not, the scandal of the Christian faith is not merely the nature or existence of God, but the sin of humankind—and the…

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    On TV: Andi Deconstructs The Bachelor on The Bachelor

    On TV: Andi Deconstructs The Bachelor on The Bachelor

    Man, was I wrong about Juan Pablo. And even wronger about Andi.

    At the beginning of this season, I had illusions about the concepts of masculinity that Juan Pablo had been complicating in this season. I talked about the man of listening over the man of talking, the rave-wave hair do over Marlboro machismo, the spontaneity over the rigid focus. And I think it was because that was what we saw in first few episodes–we found JP sidling the stall of the helpless, drunk girl; we found him championing honesty; we watched him placate the worries of his niñas. Ay, mis niñas.

    But…

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    On TV: Season Two of House of Cards

    On TV: Season Two of House of Cards

    I have no spur
    To prick the sides of my intent, but only
    Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself
    And falls on th’other… –Macbeth

    “For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: Hunt or be hunted. Welcome back.” This is the end of the first soliloquy of the second season. You have to wait for it until the very end of the first episode, so long that you actually forgot it was a part of what had mesmerized you about the show to begin with. When Francis finally does look at…

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    Fanny Howe and Ilona Karmel are “Keepers of the Image”

    Fanny Howe and Ilona Karmel are “Keepers of the Image”

    This comes from an essay Fanny Howe wrote, called “Keepers of the Image,” about her mentor, Ilona Karmel, and a short essay she wrote, also called “Keepers of the Image.” Howe describes Karmel, a Jew who survived the WWII Polish labor camps, as a woman of Dostoevskian realism, someone who sought to write about her experiences not for sentimental purposes, but for an exact depiction of abject human darkness. She wrote of the conflict in each person, between the self they know everyday, and the self they long to be, the “secret self.”

    Like Dostoyevsky, Ilona Karmel pursued truth (without quotes)…

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    Finger-Wagging the Tofu Faithful

    Finger-Wagging the Tofu Faithful

    Perhaps this would fit under PZ’s “Religions that Aren’t Called Religions,” as an Ideology. Or perhaps this is simply its own religion, the religion of Health, the religions of Fitness and Nutrition, of Kale Chips. But it could be easily replaced with almost anything–Sound Investments, Good Hair, Child-Rearing–anything that promises we will never die, and thus leaves us missing out on what’s enjoyable about actually, really living. This comes from Capon’s amazing Health, Money and Love (and Why We Don’t Enjoy Them)

    “Isn’t it true that the eating habits of most Americans are killing them?” My answer is no. People die…

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