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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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    Where Is God Without His Megaphone?

    Where Is God Without His Megaphone?

    This op-ed was written by Peter Wehner in the Sunday Review of the NYT. In it he talks about those suffering in the wake of “great pain,” not just for the deaths that have stirred their lives, but also for the seeming absence of God in those moments. His description of what Christianity offers–consolation–is so much better–so much realer–than the answers we’re often given (admittedly, also in Christian circles).

    I’m no theologian. My professional life has been focused on politics and the ideas that inform politics. Yet I’m also a Christian trying to wrestle honestly with the complexities…

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    Another Week Ends: Chuck Berry, Preachy Ads, Yik Yak Help, Optimist Empathy, Missing Richard Simmons, and the Relentless Gig Economy

    Another Week Ends: Chuck Berry, Preachy Ads, Yik Yak Help, Optimist Empathy, Missing Richard Simmons, and the Relentless Gig Economy

    1. If you, too, have wondered where all the moral messaging has been coming from in advertisements—whether it’s Amazon, Barbie, Budweiser, or 84 Lumber—why all those Super Bowl ads were so heavily imbued with political and philosophical truisms, well, you’re not alone. This week, Megan Garber of The Atlantic wrote an article called “Selling What They Preach,” which is an observation of the kind of morality flag-bearing happening during a lot of primetime TV commercials. She’s extremely aware of the irony of this endeavor—that so many of these enormous, consumer-focused businesses are spinning messages of “empathy” or “togetherness” or “love,”…

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    The Only Black Box I Have Access To

    The Only Black Box I Have Access To

    Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (Jn 9:39)

    There’s been a lot of talk about “empathy.” It has been a beloved moniker for what the nation most needs today and, like most cultural buzzwords, ’twas only a matter of time before it became the next concept in a graveyard of truisms. Empathy is one more expression of love that ran dry—it’s insufficient, it’s coercive, it’s biased.

    But empathy is a good thing! It’s something every good counselor hopes to extend, something every preacher every Sunday…

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(l to r) Annalise Basso stars as Vespyr, Viggo Mortensen as Ben and Shree Crooks as Zaja in CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, a Bleecker Street release.
Credit: Erik Simkins / Bleecker Street

    Another Week Ends: More Outrage, More Zoltan, More Tebow, More Busyness, Plus A Whole Lot of Death

    1. A really surprising-but-not-so-surprising study from Reason about moral outrage, and its psychological background. Not necessarily new territory for us here, but nonetheless, the findings are not what our culture at-large would say is behind the anger du jour we know so well on our Facebook feeds. Generally speaking, psychologists have always thought that anger pointed at injustice is “prosocial emotion,” emotion that says more about our care for others than anything about us. Instead, this article makes the point that guilt within is the real culprit. When our own moral understandings of ourselves are thrown into question—when we feel…

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    The Ash Wednesday Immortality Bus

    The Ash Wednesday Immortality Bus

    There was a dark horse in this year’s presidential campaign that you missed. And what a shame! This gentleman really promised to turn things around, in ways no one else was talking about. And I know several of us really liked the idea of bringing in a Washington “outsider,” someone who wasn’t going to go by the same old Washington rhetoric. Someone with something new to say, someone with answers to the questions no one had the guts to ask. Well, this guy had them. He wasn’t caught up in the same issues every other politician talks about, and I…

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    Alexa, Now!

    Alexa, Now!

    Whenever a new technology comes on the scene, there’s always a bridge that needs to be built. That bridge is a cognitive bridge and it takes some powerful envisioning (and marketing!) to communicate that vision to the public. It is a bridge between what before was only manageable by human intuition and hard work, and what can now (supposedly) be entrusted to another. In short, every new technology today is a bridge from human agency to automation, a bridge that will deliver us from the toil of Egypt into the Promised Land, from the land of servitude and strife into…

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    Another Week Ends: Immortality, Elixirs of Life, False Prophets, Fear of Death, Sensitive Readers and Humble Corporations, and Stranger Things

    Another Week Ends: Immortality, Elixirs of Life, False Prophets, Fear of Death, Sensitive Readers and Humble Corporations, and Stranger Things

    1. Lots of people talking about immortality this week! Wonder why that’s happening! First off, in a pretty blatant promotion of our Food & Drink Issue, The Atlantic published a lengthy piece on the denial of death in the world of nutrition and diet. I mean, the article gets pretty close to a lot of what we’re saying throughout the issue—that food is not only a culturally and morally stratifying part of our everyday lives, it is a way for human beings to fend themselves (read: justify themselves) against the inevitable d-word. The article references the philosophy of Ernest Becker (writer…

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    Mary Oliver’s Scrambled Turtle Eggs

    Mary Oliver’s Scrambled Turtle Eggs

    Living in the country, there are some beautiful things you get to experience that you simply don’t experience elsewhere. Without sounding too much like a Kubota tractor ad, I will say that nothing quite beats an early morning walk down to the river with a hot thermos of coffee, except perhaps doing that and bringing your swimsuit. Or the thick racket of peepers and bullfrogs and cicadas in the night.

    But it’s not all joy and romance. Sometimes I’ll step out into the night air and look up at the stars, do some deep breathing, hope to “have a moment,” appreciating…

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    #Humbled on the High Horse

    #Humbled on the High Horse

    For our jail bible study this past week, we decided to do Sunday’s gospel reading, which just so happened to be the Beatitudes (Mt 5:1-12), the litany of blessings that Jesus bestows on the weak, the discouraged, the sad, and the lonely. I thought, in the jail of all places, that people would really be able to understand the pertinence of Jesus’ upside-down view of things. I thought, well, if anyone understands this passage…

    The guys were definitely appreciative of the good news in those lines. The meek inheriting the earth? Comfort for those who weep? They said it sounded like…

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    Another Week Ends: More Hypocrites, More Stories We Tell, More Silence, Less American Dream, And Way Less Millennial Sleeptime (Plus ASK!)

    Another Week Ends: More Hypocrites, More Stories We Tell, More Silence, Less American Dream, And Way Less Millennial Sleeptime (Plus ASK!)

    Whether you’re wringing your hands about the next four years or pumping your fist, we all need some news that isn’t necessarily inauguration-related. You’ve come to right place!

    1. The New York Times ran an op-ed this past Sunday about the real reason we dislike hypocrisy. As a part of their Gray Matter column, the article contends that the real issue we have with hypocrites is not their inability to “practice what they preach,” but instead their belief in their own virtue. As they say it, “We contend that the reason people dislike hypocrites is that their outspoken moralizing falsely signals…

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    Five Golden…Themes! What We Loved Talking About in 2016

    Five Golden…Themes! What We Loved Talking About in 2016

    In lieu of a weekender, today we give you something of a year-ender, 2016’s five golden (or not so golden)…themes. By all means, tell us in the comments what themes you spied in the headlines throughout the past year.

    1. Donald Trump. It goes without saying, but nothing frenzied the network television companies and newspaper writers and Twitter opinionators quite like Trump’s historic campaign ride this year. Well, nothing besides Trump’s actual victory. Opinions about his ascendance and eventual victory have been as diverse as it has been profuse. In all honesty, he could have his own five golden themes—and that would just begin…

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    Shipwrecked at the Stable

    Shipwrecked at the Stable

    A heavy hitter from the champion of grace himself, Brennan Manning. This is an abbreviated version of his chapter in the Advent book, Watch for the Light. In it, Manning echoes Walker Percy in praising the wayfarer, the person who knows they are lost, and who knows that their survival depends upon nothing short of rescue. As he so powerfully depicts, though, our rescue looks a lot like defeat.

    God entered into our world not with the crushing impact of unbearable glory, but in the way of weakness, vulnerability and need. On a wintry night in an obscure cave, the infant…

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