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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
    
    Another Week Ends: Grindelwald and Kierkegaard, Homer and the Other, Faith and Fear, Athletica and Aging

    Another Week Ends: Grindelwald and Kierkegaard, Homer and the Other, Faith and Fear, Athletica and Aging

    1. The National Review published a take on the Roy Moore scandal that focuses less on the man’s misdeeds and more on the guiding theology that Moore’s Christianity espouses. David French’s article suggests there are two competing temptations within the Church today, one of which is total cultural assimilation (“the Church becomes the world, and the logic for its distinct existence disappears”) and the other being its opposite: the sectoring off of Christendom into a virtue haven for the righteous. This, French argues, is the Christianity of Roy Moore, “a form of hyper-legalism as a firewall to protect your family…

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    On Acting Like A Child: The Valuable Lesson of Regression

    On Acting Like A Child: The Valuable Lesson of Regression

    In his Introductory Lectures to psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud used a very simple analogy to explain the relationship between the id (our animal instinct) and the ego (our common sense). He described it to be like the relationship between a rider and a horse, which sounds simple enough. The animal is the id, the rider atop the animal is the ego. What was, and still is, unpopular about this analogy is that, for Freud, the horse—not the human—is the one in charge. Much as the rider may have the pretense of guiding the horse forward, to the destination he or she…

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    Another Week Ends: Anger at God, Tyrannical Histories, Pitmaster Preachers, Rom-Com Females, Money Metrics, and Here I Still Stand

    Another Week Ends: Anger at God, Tyrannical Histories, Pitmaster Preachers, Rom-Com Females, Money Metrics, and Here I Still Stand

    Bonnie Poon Zahl has an amazing interview in the Salvation Army magazine about the psychology of religion and anger at God. Bonnie, who wrote an amazing essay in our Mental Health Issue on attachment theory, here discusses the link between religious life and the life of the mind. Incredibly wise, she notes the fear Christians have of expressing their negative feelings and uncertainties towards God, very often because they have learned that such emotions mean a lack of faith. To the contrary, she says, such invitations to honesty comes directly from God:

    God gave us emotions as important cues. We need…

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    Kicking the Dog: The Not-So-Subtle Art of Displacement

    Kicking the Dog: The Not-So-Subtle Art of Displacement

    This begins a short mini-series on the wide world of defense mechanisms—how you and I do our very best to cope with the realities of pain.

    We all have our defense mechanisms. In psychodynamic terms, these are the ways our egos fend off stressors—situations or circumstances or, you know, very very rarely, people that conjure realities we just can’t handle. Sometimes these stressors waylay us with personal condemnation, sometimes they demolish a sacred belief we hold dear, sometimes they are random, traumatic events. Other times, the stressors aren’t bad: there’s an exciting new career opportunity or it’s a busy time of…

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    Another Week Ends: Sincerity, Repentance, Beatitudes, Michelin Stars, Hard Leisure, and Hard-Won Tribalism

    Another Week Ends: Sincerity, Repentance, Beatitudes, Michelin Stars, Hard Leisure, and Hard-Won Tribalism

    1. Mark Galli is at his best in his article, “Whatever Became of Repentance?” In a time riddled with righteous anger and categorical division on almost every level, it makes sense how the 500-year anniversary could be co-opted as a central reminder of the power of the Reformer and the Protest. Galli points the conversation in another direction entirely, towards a movement within rather than a movement without. Repentance, in fact, was the dawn of the Lutheran Protest. The return to the good news of true Christianity, Luther argued, was paved in the language of repentance. And as Galli notes,…

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    Skin in the Game

    Skin in the Game

    Wherever you get your news, you have surely read about (or skipped over) the ongoing National Anthem disputes among NFL teams on game day, a controversy fanned ever higher by President Trump’s continued Twitter-complaints about it. Media outlets have, of course, come around to sample their own spin on the conversation.

    And then, just yesterday, news broke about the FBI sting operation on multiple NCAA men’s basketball programs, allegedly in cahoots with sportswear giant Adidas for all kinds of illegalities, not least the funneling of hundreds of thousands of dollars to high school prospects’ families, in exchange for their contracts, both…

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    Rollo May's One Paradox of Courage

    Rollo May’s One Paradox of Courage

    An important (if not challenging) definition of courage from existential psychologist Rollo May, brother of writer and addiction counselor, Gerald May. This comes from Rollo’s famous book, The Courage to Create—a title dedicated to Paul Tillich’s The Courage to Be—and this section is a description of what May calls the paradox of courage. Courage, as he sees it, goes far beyond strong wills and resolution. It comes from the French word “coeur” or heart. It means something akin to being “full-hearted,” and therefore is incomplete without its ugly counterpart, fear or doubt. Replace “courage” with “belief,” and you have a…

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    Another Week Ends: Houston, Taylor Swift, Smartphones, Broken Window Policing, the Silicon Valley Hustle, and the Shape of Water

    Another Week Ends: Houston, Taylor Swift, Smartphones, Broken Window Policing, the Silicon Valley Hustle, and the Shape of Water

    1. A gut-punch for all of us smartphone-using Millennials (or parents thereof). The Atlantic’s massive feature piece, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” painstakingly catalogs all the ways that our devices have ruined the mental health outlook for today’s young people, referred to in the essay as “iGen” teenagers. These teenagers, who were born after the birth of the internet, and have had access to iPhones and similar “screen time” since early childhood, have staggering rates of depression and loneliness—moving towards what the author, psychologist Jean Twenge, describes as “the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.”

    Even when a seismic…

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    From the Onion: Poll Finds Declining Number of Americans Believe They God

    One for the ages (ht SPB). 

    WASHINGTON—In what researchers say marks a profound change in the nation’s attitude toward religion, a new Pew Research Center poll released Thursday found a significant decline in the number of Americans who believe they are God. “Our data shows that since we started studying the trend in the late 1970s, there has been a 60 percent decrease in the number of people in this country who believe they are the Lord incarnate,” said Pew senior research statistician Marianne Tomac, adding that the largest contributor to the drop was the dwindling number of parents who raise their children in households in which they are taught they are the Supreme Being. “We also found that of the respondents who grew up believing they were the Almighty, nearly 40 percent admitted that skepticism and disillusionment had caused them to question whether they were, in fact, omnipotent or even created the universe at all.” The poll also reported, however, a corresponding increase in the number of Americans who said while they no longer believed they were God, they did see themselves as the indescribable universal energy that connects all living things.

    A Botched Eucharist and a Campesino's Pocketful of Flowers

    A Botched Eucharist and a Campesino’s Pocketful of Flowers

    Another story of grace from Gregory Boyle’s litany of grace stories, Tattoos on the Heart. In this one, Boyle describes being a priest in Cochabamba, Bolivia, just after having been ordained. Having had little Spanish education at the time, he is able to get through the Eucharist okay, but not without reading directly from the missal. Boyle recalls being asked to perform Mass for an indigenous community known as the Quechua, who had not seen a priest in over a decade. The Quechua people are a poor mountain community that make a living harvesting flowers, and carrying the flowers in…

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    Recovery – Czeslaw Milosz

    As Milosz’s biographer, Andrzej Franaszek, says:

    “In the spring of 1943, [Czeslaw Milosz] wrote a cycle of twenty short poems entitled The World: Naive Poems . . . a sequence of little cameos from childhood, images which would not be out of place if hung above a tiny bed, showing a guardian angel watching over a child and its night-time journeying. . . . Here we have the world, discovered with the eyes of a child and, at the same time, as it ought to be, given to human beings to live in – a world filled with sacred order, as if the poet raised a building of sense in spite of the nightmare surrounding him [ in occupied Poland], setting existence against nothingness.”

    Here’s one from those twenty, entitled “Recovery” (ht KW).

    “Here I am–why this senseless fear?
    The night is over, the day will soon arise.
    You hear. The shepherds’ horns already sound,
    And stars grow pale over the rosy glow.

    “The path is straight. We are at the edge.
    Down in the village the little bell chimes.
    Roosters on the fences greet the light
    And the earth steams, fertile and happy.

    “Here it is still dark. Fog like a river flood
    Swaddles the black clumps of bilberries.
    But the dawn on bright stilts wades in from the shore
    And the ball of the sun, ringing, rolls.”

    Right-Wing Fathers, Left-Wing Sons, and The Reason You're Alive

    Right-Wing Fathers, Left-Wing Sons, and The Reason You’re Alive

    Matthew Quick has a gift for telling stories around a lovable, self-destructive hero, a gift that’s made the novelist a Hollywood go-to. His first novel, Silver Linings Playbook, we all know about. But there are several more in the stable that have been optioned by producers, including the one just released this spring (and immediately optioned by Miramax), called The Reason You’re Alive.

    The story is told by our crusty first-person narrator, a Vietnam veteran named David Granger, a foul-mouthed (very politically incorrect) 68-year-old American patriot recovering from a recent brain surgery. The brain tumor—which Granger attributes to too much exposure…

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