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.
Another Week Ends: Identity Politics, Applied Rationality, Hipster Nostalgia, Self-Recrimination, and Belle & Sebastian Emails
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1. Another incredible op-ed from Molly Worthen this past week about obstructions placed on campus ministries by more and more secular universities. I actually had the opportunity to interview Molly Worthen yesterday for the upcoming Church Issue, and we talked a little bit about this article. In it, she claims that, concomitant with the ideology of nondiscrimination in today’s academia–the ideology that frames much of today’s academic discourse–is the assertion that truth claims are identity-exclusive, and therefore detrimental to student life.
She writes about the InterVarsity chapter at Vanderbilt University, which was recently forced to relocate and was…
This passage is written by Simone Weil. The French theologian and writer, Jean Sulivan writes in his Spiritual Journal Morning Light that, when he thinks about the tenderness of God, and the enigma of Christ, nothing for him describes better the longing (and pain) better than this passage from Simone Weil.
He brought me out and made me climb into a garret (an attic). Through the open window one could see the whole city spread out, some wooden scaffoldings, and the river on which boats were being unloaded. He bade me be seated.
We were alone. He spoke. From time to time someone would enter,…
This comes from Frank Lake’s Tight Corners in Pastoral Counselling. In this section, entitled, “The Use and Misuse of Religion,” Dr. Lake discusses the age-old propensity of religion and religious language to become either a self-defensive shield between a person and their much-needed comfort; or, on the flipside, for religion to become the “bad thing” upon which all of their collective discomfort–past, present, and future–is projected. This is not the time for apologetics, Lake argues. In a time of such opposition, it is better to listen. This great story illustrates his meaning:
I never find myself threatened by hostility to religion in those who consult me: quite the reverse. The…
Headlong in your career, breathing out threatenings
And slaughter against enemies, dictating trouble
For anyone advanced ahead of you, gambling
That you can stay ahead of your rep, checking off
The list of those to chop off at the top, and the place
Your name will be inked in, all the while businesslike,
Congenial with associates and flattering
To authorities and enforcers, bloody and obscene
Only in private mutterings and unspoken dreams,
On your way to yet another hanging, stoning, gossip-
Mongering swap meet of assassins, you’re surprised
As much as anyone to be chosen–though it requires
A certain blindness on your part and such a change
You wouldn’t know yourself–a vessel of grace.
The American justice and penal systems may be hot topics today, but it isn’t the only reason that Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy became a New York Times bestseller in 2014. As the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative he’s certainly earned his room to speak about oppressive justice and the death penalty and mass incarceration. But he is also compelling as a storyteller—he is not simply interested in the facts and figures justifying prison reform. He is also intertwined in individual lives of prisoners; their stories play a huge role in his own coming-of-age.
If you’re unfamiliar with the book, Just…
As we blanket our house with nic-nacs and expensive toys, it’s the perfect time to look back at the things that matter—or the things that mattered—or the things that at least we thought mattered at the time—to us this year. Here are Five Golden Themes for 2015—repeated stories and obsessions that didn’t just creep into the collective cultural psyche, but seemed to define it, for better or worse.
Performancism and Suicide. I had to check and make sure this hadn’t been on one of our previous year-end roundups. I thought surely, with all the times we’ve written about “the epidemic,” this…
From his newest collection, Application for Release from the Dream.
Some birds are people-watchers.
The worms can hear us stomping over them.
The loaves and fishes multiplied the Christians.
We were wrong about so many things.
We thought the world was mute,
or dead, or just disinterested.
Yet the sunrise liked being looked at
by sleepy cabdrivers. The billboard
was unashamed of its Southern Comfort ad.
The night wind rustled
through the tops of cedar trees
standing all around a certain house
where worried people
lay in bed and listened.
What were the names
of those old Greek gods?
And where did they go?
Atlas—he’s the one
who spent a long time
what did not belong to him.
Another Week Ends: Little Richard, Brand Luther, Star Wars, Marilynne Robinson’s Soul, and Identifying As…?
Click here to listen to the accompanying episode of The Mockingcast.
1) On the heels of “identity” being Dictionary.com’s word of 2015, Spiked editor Brendan O’Neill discusses a theme that we have spoken about quite a bit ourselves this year, namely, the increasingly fluid cultural understanding of identity politics. O’Neill takes on the phrase “I identify as…” as a telling move from what we used to say about ourselves: “I am…” And with this new movement of self-identification comes the emphasis on subjectivity, the need for one’s identity to be transient, temporal—rather than objective, fixed, given.
O’Neill describes that this rampant interest…
This is an Advent reflection that came up in yesterday’s entry in Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas. It comes from pastor and theologian William Willimon, who is discussing the misplaced emphasis on the “season of giving,” and the real reason for the season–receiving.
In a society that makes strangers of us all, it is interesting what we do when a stranger gives us a gift.
And consider what we do at Christmas, the so-called season of giving. We enjoy thinking of ourselves as basically generous, benevolent, giving people. That’s one reason why everyone, even the nominally religious, loves Christmas. Christmas…
In an effort to keep his show alive, Damon Lindelof and company are doing a lot of interviews after the finale of their mindblowing second season. This is a good thing, because nearly everyone I have talked to who’s been (ravenously) watching The Leftovers is desperate for more details. (That doesn’t mean the show is doing all that well, ratings-wise. In fact, no one is watching it.) The show has kept a lot of boxes buried in the woods, if you know what I mean. It has kept a lot of reasons carefully undefined.
This is frustrating for viewers, but it…
Mary Karr’s new book on memoir begins with this epigraph from Thomas Merton. It is about the false self we all carry with us. It is amazing.
Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. I wind my experiences around myself and cover myself with glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I were an invisible body that could only become visible when something visible covered its surface. But there is no substance under the things with which I am clothed, I am hollow, and my…