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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    The Ever-Blurring Line Between Workweek and Weekend

    The Ever-Blurring Line Between Workweek and Weekend

    As our fourth issue of The Mockingbird makes it way to you, here’s a glimpse at what’s headed your way, the Opener from yours truly.

    In an upcoming 2015 documentary called The Land, Vermont filmmaker Erin Davis is capturing the nature of play and risk-taking on an unusual playground in North Wales. The one-acre plot of vacant property, called “The Land,” is known as an “adventure playground,” which allows children of all ages the free space to roll down hills in old tires, to light fires in rusty oil drums, and build forts in trees with hammers and nails. As for…

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    Another Week Ends: Facelessness, Lent CEOs, Literacy Losers, Baseball Clocks, and North Korean Inspiration

    Another Week Ends: Facelessness, Lent CEOs, Literacy Losers, Baseball Clocks, and North Korean Inspiration

    1) Stephen Marche is certainly making a name for himself as the technological doomster, and in a supremely convincing way. He’s the one that wrote that piece we completely over-covered, called “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” and then there was that piece on our modern muse, Failure, and right in time for Ash Wednesday, we have “The Epidemic of Facelessness,” an op-ed piece which appeared in this Sunday’s Times. Marche talks in great detail about an age where, in most part, the majority of our social interaction takes place online and on screen. One of the consequences of this impersonal…

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    Not Ideas About Love But the Thing Itself: A Review of Birdman

    Not Ideas About Love But the Thing Itself: A Review of Birdman

    This is the epigraph that shows in the opening credits of Birdman, and it’s also the real-life epitaph on Raymond Carver’s tombstone. It serves as a good starting point for a movie that basically seconds as an adaptation for Carver’s famous short story, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” But it’s also a good starting point for Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton), aka “Birdman,” ex-superhero-of-the-nineties, awash in irrelevance amidst a bigger, newer wave of Marvel stars.

    A Look Inside Issue 4 of The Mockingbird: The Work and Play Issue

    We’re happy to announce that Issue 4 will be on its way by month’s end. Here’s our Table of Contents for the Work and Play Issue. Needless to say there’s lots to be excited for, so if you’re looking for a subscription, now’s the time, because this is also the last time we’ll be selling subscriptions for the price they’re at now ($42).

    This is what we’re looking into in this, the Work and Play Issue: We have interviews with best-selling time-researcher (and working mother), Brigid Schulte, as well as the Nigerian theologian of play, Nimi Wariboko. We’re covering a wide variety of topics, from freemium gamers and Fitbit philosophy, to happy jobs and Las Vegas tragedies. There’s an essay on the real meaning of sabbath, and a self-improvement sermon against self-improvement. We also have two new works from the matchless poet Mark Jarman—it’s all too much to name, really. In all of these, though, a common thread remains: one that marks out workweek from weekend, the world of demand from the world of freedom. Along this boundary lie much the world’s troubles, but also its hope, for a little bit of thought, and a lot bit of tomfoolery.

    THE WORK AND PLAY ISSUE

    Opener

    Optimization Nation: Deprogramming the Cult of Productivity by David Zahl

    The Confessionalcoversketch

    “In a Bookstore,” A Poem by Mark Jarman

    Sabbath Time: In a World of Work, an Invitation to Rest by Phillip Cary

    For the Record: Games for Non-Gamers by Jamin Warren

    The Overwhelm: A Conversation on a Modern Mandate with Brigid Schulte

    Happy: America’s Favorite Feeling Goes to Work by Ethan Richardson

    For the Record: Nine Comic Books for Your Inner-Child

    God So Loved the World of Warcraft: Role-Playing Games and the Labor of Spirituality by Will McDavid

    The Logic of Grace Is the Logic of Play: A Q&A with Nimi Wariboko

    “Confession,” A Poem by Mark Jarman

    Auden, Big Data, and the Accelerated Grimace of Modern America by Evan Brush

    For the Record: Eight Must-See ESPN 30 for 30s

    De Profundis: Our Past Is Prologue by Michael Nicholson

    The End of the Never-Ending Voice, A Sermon by Paul Walker

    Transfiguration – Mark Jarman

    This man will be our featured poet for Issue 4, with two new, unpublished works.

    414R4T6GDeL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_They were talking to him about resurrection, about law,
    about the suffering ahead.
    They were talking as if to remind him who he was and
    who they were. He was not
    Like his three friends watching a little way off, not like
    the crowd
    At the foot of the hill. A gray-green thunderhead massed
    from the sea
    And God spoke from it and said he was his. They were
    talking
    About how the body, broken or burned, could live again,
    remade.
    Only the fiery text of the thunderhead could explain it.
    And they were talking
    About pain and the need for judgement and how he would
    make himself
    A law of pain, both its spirit and its letter in his own flesh,
    and then break it,
    That is, transcend it. His clothes flared like magnesium,
    as they talked.

    The Chameleon’s Cult of Intensive Motherhood

    The Chameleon’s Cult of Intensive Motherhood

    I had the privilege to interview Brigid Schulte for our next issue of the magazine (out the doors in the next month!), The Work and Play Issue. Schulte, who is a columnist at the Washington Post and author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time, is also a mother, a busy mother, who found herself entwined a life that was bordering on madness. Her book is the story of coming to grips with this modern busyness–a busyness she found was more universal than just her, just mothers, or even just women. Instead, she found that,…

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    David Brooks and the Ever-Pinging Status Sonar

    A great way of talking about the continuous feedback loop of self-examination, this is a throwback quote from a favorite, The Social Animal, David Brooks’ investigation of the interior lives of people. The book follows the lives of two fictional lovers, Harold and Erica, from infancy to adulthood, and all the bumps along the way. We pick up as Harold and Erica have fallen in love. Mark, who is mentioned here, is Harold’s exotic, take-life-by-the-horns roommate.

    This “sonar” analogy is a pretty apt picture of little-l law in our lives. It may not be the law of God, but its effect often feels the same. It forces us to rate ourselves on the continuum of righteous living. (It is also interesting what falling in love does to Harold’s self-appraisal.)

    Doctor_jacobyA few weeks later, Harold sat alone in his apartment, feeling that his life was going tremendously well. All human beings go through life with a fully operational status sonar. We send out continuous waves of status measurements and receive a stream of positive or negative feedback signals that cumulatively define our place in society. Harold looked around at his loft. PING. A plus signal came back. He loved its open space and high ceilings. Hard contemplated his abs. PING. A negative signal came back. He really should go to the gym more. Harold looked at his face in the mirror. PING. A neutral signal came back. No sculpted cheekbones, but it could be worse.

    All day long the status sonar hums along–a stream of pluses, minuses and neutrals building in the mind, producing either happiness, anxiety, or doubt. The status sonar isn’t even a conscious process most of the time; it is just the hedonic tone of existence. Much of life, Mark had told Harold, consists of trying to maximize the number of pluses in the stream and minimize the number of minuses. Much of life is a series of adjustments to plus up the flow.

    The problem is, nobody’s status sonar is accurate. Some people are status exaggerators. They wildly inflate their spot in the pecking order. They are sixes they think they are eights and when they ask out women who are nines they are flummoxed when they get rejected. Other people are status minimizers. These people will never apply for jobs for which they are amply qualified because they assume they’ll be crushed by the competition.

    …Harold’s sonar sensor was like a finely crafted Swiss watch. It was balanced, sensitive, and appropriately forgiving. Like most happy people, Harold judged himself by his intentions, his friends by their deeds, and his rivals by their mistakes. The PINGs continued. The pluses flowed. And when Harold imagined himself with Erica, well, it was like a surging torrent of pluses…But there was also something deeper going on. All his life, Harold had lived at a certain level, but now he had discovered deeper compulsions. Coming to this realization was like living in a house all your life and suddenly falling through a trapdoor to find there had been a level underground all along, and then to find another level beneath that, and another level and another.

    Another Week Ends: Modern Love, Measured Grief, Moral Progress, and Invisible Sciences

    Another Week Ends: Modern Love, Measured Grief, Moral Progress, and Invisible Sciences

    1) Kicking off this week’s roundup we have a story that posted last week over at Modern Love. Entitled, “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This,” it posits the theory that intimate love can happen between any two people willing to open themselves up. We read to find that not only has this theory been tested, by a scientific researcher named Dr. Arthur Aron, but that it is also put to the test by the writer herself, on a first date, in a bar. And it works.

    It sounds like another sensationalized love algorithm, but the thought behind it makes…

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    The Guru’s Distinction Between Power and Force

    The Guru’s Distinction Between Power and Force

    Opening up Power vs. Force by 1990s self-help psychiatrist-guru David R. Hawkins, I must confess I should’ve done some background on what I was getting into. Dr. Hawkins worked with Linus Pauling on the Nobel-prize winning Orthomolecular Psychiatry. And then he left clinical psychiatry to travel and speak about his pursuit of “pure consciousness”–his theory on the accessibility of the great Truth of life. Power vs. Force is his blueprint–an “anatomy of consciousness,” he calls it–the map of the hidden motivators of human behavior.

    There’s lots of kooky stuff in here. For one, Hawkins’ fundamental “database of consciousness” is based in…

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    Lucinda Williams and All the Forgettable Epiphanies

    Lucinda Williams and All the Forgettable Epiphanies

    Tuesday was the Feast of the Epiphany, the day in which we celebrate the Christ child revealed to the Magi, the rulers of the East, the Word of God made plain to the Gentiles. It brings to a close the twelve days of Christmas, and what a way to do it–with the showcasing of God’s Son to the whole pagan world, not just the choicest cuts.

    And what was Lucinda Williams doing? Besides preparing for a short tour along the Gulf of Mexico, she was mourning the death of her father, Miller Williams, the acclaimed poet whose lyrics actually open the…

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    Terrence Malick’s Prodigal Son

    The trailer for Knight of Cups is out! Christian Bale, come home! Come home!

    A Real Advent Hero: St. Peter, The All-Reminding Forgetter

    A Real Advent Hero: St. Peter, The All-Reminding Forgetter

    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…