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.
The Advent reading this morning in the Daily Office Lectionary is a zinger, the way it’s laid out. (Don’t get any ideas—this isn’t something I do with any regularity.) First off, we’re given the Old Testament reading, the Lord’s promise through the prophet Isaiah, that a child will come, and that through him the heavy burdens of the “people in darkness” will finally see light: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…
Another Week Ends: Elephant Mothers, New Journalism, More Lumbersexuals, Passwords, Tauntauns and Nettles
It’s Christmas time, and it feels like everyone on the Internet is talking about…the Internet.
As the debate continues about what journalism is becoming—in light of the fall of the New Republic and the retracted reporting of a certain Rolling Stone article—much of what gets talked about is money, and the kind of click-bait that tends to get corralled for the sake of it. As the age of online news matures, it seems that content is more the handmaiden to investors than public dialogue and interest.
But deeper than this, other discussions have emerged pointing to the “radical liberal”…
Good News for the weary Advent Amazon shopper. An amazing bit from Phillip Cary’s Good News for Anxious Christians, which I am unashamedly speed-reading this Advent. Consumerist? No way! Cary here is talking about the false, consumerist focus on change, and how that focus has bled into the way we think about our very souls. Rather than helping us see that our lives should not be about us, Cary says this kind of transformation-trance makes us incapable of thinking about anything but. Our attention deficit leads us perpetually into the trap of correcting the selves that Christ came to transform.
In the morning God pulled me onto the porch,
a rain-washed gray and brilliant shore.
Its leaves were newly yellow and green,
slick and bright, and so alive it hurt
to take the colors in. My pupils grew
hungry and wide against my will.
God said, “Listen to the tree.”
And I did. It said, “Live!”
And it opened itself wider, not with desire,
but the way I imagine a surgeon spreads
the ribs of a patient in distress and rubs
her paralyzed heart, only this tree parted
its own limbs toward the sky–I was the light in that sky.
I reached in to the thick, sweet core
and I lifted it to my mouth and held it there
for a long time until I tasted the word
tree (because I had forgotten its name).
Then I said my own name twice softly.
Augustine said, God loves each of us as if
there were only one of us, but I hadn’t believed him.
And God put me down on the steps with my coffee
and my cigarettes. And, although I still
could not eat nor sleep, that evening
and that morning were my first day back.
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…
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…
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…
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
between 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
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
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.
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
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…
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!
My Relationship with God Is Better than Ever by Will McDavid
James and Me: Dispatches from the Bottom by Jim O’Connor