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
    
    The Trivial Pursuits of Lena Dunham

    The Trivial Pursuits of Lena Dunham

    In one of the final chapters of Lena Dunham’s new memoir Not That Kind of Girl, entitled “Therapy & Me”, Lena describes her first anxiety-ridden experience of sitting down as a germophobic, obsessive-compulsive nine-year-old with a prospective shrink. It is a “quirky, self-destructive Lena” moment, like so many moments in her book, and her show Girls, and so it would be nearly unremarkable if it weren’t for the subtext:

    The first doctor, a violet-haired grandma-aged woman with a German surname, asks me a few simple questions and then invites me to play with the toys scattered across her floor. She sits…

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    Sinner and Saint Vincent

    Sinner and Saint Vincent

    St. Vincent arrived in theaters just in time for All Saints’ Sunday, the day the church recognizes and remembers those in the parish community who have died, and all the other “saints” that went before them. It is not a coincidence; first-time director Ted Melfi must have known what was on the church calendar in some regard, given the assignment that’s handed out by Brother Geraghty (Chris O’Dowd), to his middle school class. The assignment is this: to find out about and present on a living saint in the community—not Athanasius, not Mother Teresa, not even Pope Francis—but a “saint…

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    When the Grief Index Backfires

    When the Grief Index Backfires

    The church I attend is trying to reboot their “pastoral care ministry”, which is one of those amorphous seminary terms for something that could (and maybe should) mean more than it intends. Isn’t the job of a pastor to care? I got a little worried when I heard ours needed rebooting! I haven’t gone to seminary, but it doesn’t take long in a tour of church websites to see what is generally meant by pastoral care: hospital visits, home visits, prayer shawls, marriage counseling, baptisms, funerals. In other words, pastoral care has a lot to do with the church sharing…

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    Washing Dishes After the Feast – Brad Davis

    From the Mockingbird poet’s newest collection of poems, Still Working It Out, a selection of which is featured in the Third Issue of our magazine, this one was previously published in The Paris Review.

    It frightens me to think, she said, interrupting
    my holiday banter. Imagining the phrase
    as antecedent to a rare gift of honest exchange
    wile-e-coyote-falling-off-cliffbetween grownup siblings, I dashed
    into the split-second of dead air, anticipating silently
    her elaboration–what a mess we’ve made of things
    for our kids; how many parents of starving
    children must hate us for our amazing prosperity
    and self-indulgence.

    But I had misread
    her punctuation, took the period as a pause, and all
    at once found myself, like that coyote
    we used to pull for on Saturday mornings, utterly
    without purchase, eyeballing an abyss.
    Which is when, glancing back across the divide
    of the double sink at her busy hands, I saw her
    as though she were curled in a ball on the lip
    of a cliff, knees tight to her chest, face buried
    in the cotton folds of a holly-green dress.
    It’s okay, I wanted to tell her. It scares me, too.
    But I was already plummeting, tumbling in free-fall
    to a sunbaked canyon floor, the crazy cur
    in her endless cartoon of an unreliable universe

    Couple Dies of Confusion

    In line with this weekend’s FOMO breakout session, here’s one of the illustrations we looked to, from the most recent season of Portlandia. We looked at the “fear of missing out” as a reaction based primarily in resentment, resentment pointed either at the past or at the future. The fruit of FOMO, then: regret about the lives we never lived, and anxiety about the ones ahead/not ahead. This video certainly falls in the anxiety category, as Kirsten Dunst finds herself haunted by confusion–befuddled at every corner by the distinction between right from wrong.

    Drifting Closer in the Dark: An Introduction to the Musical Folklore of Slaid Cleaves

    Drifting Closer in the Dark: An Introduction to the Musical Folklore of Slaid Cleaves

    We could not be more excited to have Slaid Cleaves join us for the Houston Conference next week. It’s just one of the reasons we hope you’ll meet us there.

    There’s plenty of eye-rolling when it comes to American country and folk music, mainly because so much of what used to constitute its storytelling now seems untrue. Songs about rust and horses and top hands and tree yodelers—this used to be far-reaching content; it has since shrunken into American oblivion, re-visited mainly in nichey beer bars by minor players. For anyone other than the Americana devotees, country songs consist, at best, of naïve nostalgia about “simpler times”, and at worst, of abject denial about who we are. And perhaps it is true.

    Another Week Ends: Kafka’s Facebook, Pre-cations, New Hugo, New Pixar, the Empathy Police, and Kid Worship

    Another Week Ends: Kafka’s Facebook, Pre-cations, New Hugo, New Pixar, the Empathy Police, and Kid Worship

    1) Facebook at the top of our list again this week, thanks in whole to Joshua Rothman’s New Yorker article, “In Facebook’s Courtroom.” The article depends on a deadly cocktail of TMZ’s Ray Rice video release and Kafka’s “The Trial.” What he gets at, in doing so, is the idea of Facebook as our junk-room of judgment—a place where ‘likes’ are actually ‘hate-likes’ and a user’s status updates stand as verdicts on the world around them. Even the positive “Gratitude Challenge” trends that crop up are indirect judgments disguised as inspirational montages.

    Rothman is not just talking about the tendency to…

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    Issue 3 of The Mockingbird Out Now!

    Issue 3 of The Mockingbird Out Now!

    The Relationship Issue (No. 3) is here! Let it be known: you will not be disappointed. Interviews with Modern Love editor Daniel Jones, and the Oscar-winning team behind Undefeated. Essays on marriage, parenthood, relationships with bandmates, relationships with God. A short story from Welcome Wagoner Vito Aiuto, brand new poems by Brad Davis. We have spot illustrations by the famous Jess Rotter. It’s all a little hard to believe.

    Find below the Table of Contents and Introduction. If you’re not subscribed, subscribe now!

    CONTENTS

    My Relationship with God Is Better than Ever by Will McDavid

    The Confessional

    James and Me: Dispatches from the Bottom by Jim O’Connor

    The…

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    Lucinda Williams Needs Protection (Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone)

    Excuse the Americana interruption, but with a new double album out (next week), amazingly titled Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, Lucinda Williams seems to be singing from the basement, looking up. And so we need to listen! The twenty-track album from the famed songwriter is streamable on NPR right now, and is worth the listen, regardless of whether or not you find her Louisiana gruff too gruff. The album opens with the title track, which is actually called “Compassion,” a poem her poet-mentor-father wrote: “Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it / What…

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    Step Into Their World: The Parallel Universes of Alzheimer’s and Improv

    Step Into Their World: The Parallel Universes of Alzheimer’s and Improv

    By following the rules of improvisation, one family finds love and humor within the wilderness of dementia.

    The episode “Magic Words” aired last month on This American Life and in it you’ll hear “Rainy Days and Mondys,” the story of Karen Stobbe, her husband Mondy, and her mother Virginia, who recently moved into their house because she has dementia.

    Motivation that Works: Colbert Introduces the Pavlovian Fitness Band

    Sadly, this actually exists (ht BFG).

    Love in Creature Form

    Love in Creature Form

    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…

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