About Matt Schneider

Matt is an Associate Priest at All Saints Episcopal Church in Hilton Head Island, SC, where he lives with his wife Hawley and two children. In addition to regularly contributing to mbird.com, his writing has appeared in The New Yorker, on This I Believe, and in the Mockingbird Devotional. He likes to ride bikes.

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    The Drunken Downfall (and Death) of Thomas Kinkade

    The Drunken Downfall (and Death) of Thomas Kinkade

    To be honest, I didn’t even know Thomas Kinkade was dead. That was until I read this fascinating piece on Kinkade, America’s favorite sentimental “Painter of Light,” from The Daily Beast by Zac Bissonnette: “The Drunken Downfall of Evangelical America’s Favorite Painter.” I also had no idea Kinkade was (a) an Evangelical Christian and (b) an alcoholic. The story is at once alarming, yet not surprising, and ultimately really sad. Thus, I can’t help but explore it here.

    (Before I move on, I should preface this essay by noting that Kinkade died on Good Friday two years ago, so I was probably distracted…

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    Yours Truly, Passive Aggressive Prodigal Pig

    Yours Truly, Passive Aggressive Prodigal Pig

    In our perennial pursuit of children’s books that address true-to-life issues, my wife and I recently stumbled across a gem at the library called Yours Truly, Louisa by Simon Puttock. The story explores a theme of passive aggression, which is not normally seen in children’s books, but it should be, given how pervasive an issue it is (and ultimately a dead end). As such, there is a theological undercarriage of the law, since passive aggressive communication tends to be a symptom of legalism. The book has a hopeful (almost Biblical) ending, though, that makes it all the more worthwhile.

    Louisa the…

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    Andy Bernard to Give Graduation Speech at Cornell University … Ever Heard of It?

    Andy Bernard to Give Graduation Speech at Cornell University … Ever Heard of It?

    It has been a Mockingbird tradition to highlight worthy graduation speeches amidst the vast sea of snoozers. As the spring commencement season approaches, I want to point out that Ed Helms, the actor who played Andy Bernard on The Office, will be giving a speech at Cornell University’s graduation on May 24. This is noteworthy because Andy Bernard, the sycophantic airhead with anger-management issues, always brags about how he went to Cornell (’93). “Ever heard of it?”

    Helm’s upcoming speech is bound to go at least semi-viral just by his showing up at Cornell. But it’s even more likely to go viral…

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    The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Finds a Place in First Grade

    The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Finds a Place in First Grade

    The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbcher Goes to School (by Laurie Halse Anderson) is a children’s picture book about a young girl who has  untamable red hair with a mind of its own. Zoe loves her hair, her parents love her hair, and last year, her free-spirited kindergarten teacher loved Zoe’s hair since it helped around the classroom, picking up trash, erasing the chalkboard, setting the snack table, and comforting the children during nap time. But things change this year when Zoe goes to first grade. “School has rules,” her new teacher, Ms. Trisk, likes to say. “No wild hair in…

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    How the Pout-Pout fish Becomes the Kiss-Kiss Fish

    How the Pout-Pout fish Becomes the Kiss-Kiss Fish

    In my perennial search for great children’s books written by people other than the beloved Sally Lloyd-Jones (there are few), I recently came across the clearest illustration of the law (demand) and grace (love) paradigm in storybook form: The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen. The story is about sad Mr. Fish, and all the other fish of the sea, who each in their own special way tell him to smile and cheer up. You know, what’s wrong with you? Mr. Fish’s constant refrain to these well-intended yet naive advice givers goes like this:

    I’m a pout-pout fish with a pout-pout face. So I spread the…

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    Bono Talks Jesus on The Meaning of Life

    This is a clip from a longer interview on The Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne, an Irish program on RTÉ Television (ht, AP). Much of what Bono says here overlaps portions of the book Bono: In Conversation With Michka Assayas that we’ve highlighted in the past. Bono seems to be in something of a league of his own as such a huge rockstar who is so open with his (solid) Christian faith, and he is articulate about it to boot. Watch the whole interview here.

    By the way, did you happen to catch the amazing/dizzying U2 performance of “Invisible” on the roof of 30 Rock on the premier episode of The Tonight Show Staring Jimmy Fallon? Their acoustic set of “Ordinary Love” was pretty mesmerizing, too. Some worthy lyrics here:

    ‘Cause we can’t fall any further
    If we can’t feel ordinary love
    And we cannot reach any higher
    If we can’t deal with ordinary love

    Are we tough enough
    For ordinary love

    Sister-Ax Evangelizes The Voice: “God Doesn’t Take Anything Away from Us”

    To the surprise of so many who watched, last week an Italian nun dominated The Voice of Italy by signing Alicia Keys’ “No One” in English. The absolute highlight of her appearance (which you can see in the video below) is when J-Ax, a heavily tattooed Italian rapper and one of the voice coaches, reacts with pure delight to Sister Cristina, including shedding a few tears of joy. Another highlight is that she says she auditioned for the sake of evangelism—something she claims Pope Francis inspired her to do. We are all ears, Sister! I also love that some of her fellow sisters appeared on the show in support.

    Here are some highlights. Make sure you click “CC” on the video to get the English captions.

    Question: What brought you here to The Voice?
    Sister Cristina: I have a gift and I am giving it to you. Shouldn’t things be this way?

    J-Ax: If I had met you during the Mass, when I was a child, now I would be Pope! I would surely have attended all the functions.
    Sister Cristina: Well you have met me now.

    Question: What does the Vatican say about you auditioning at The Voice?
    Sister Cristina: Listen, I don’t really know. I am waiting for Pope Francesco to call me on the phone. He always says we should go out and evangelize telling God doesn’t take anything away from us but will give us more. I am here for this. [The audience erupts in applause, and J-Ax begins to cry.]

    P.S. Have you seen this? Aaaauuugghhh!!!!!

    Scripting Others: Stephen Covey on Imputation?

    Scripting Others: Stephen Covey on Imputation?

    Despite my instincts to steer clear of self help literature, I recently read Stephen R. Covey’s classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Can anything good come from the self help genre? To my surprise, yes, especially this excerpted section below on “Scripting Others” from Habit 7: Sharpening the Saw (basically, self care). In the following section he talks about something akin to imputation—the act of attributing to someone a trait not otherwise natural to themselves.

    At some time in your life, you probably had someone believe in you when you didn’t believe in yourself. They scripted you. Did that…

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    The Lion Shall Lie Down with the Zoologist

    The Lion Shall Lie Down with the Zoologist

    On the viral video front, there is an incredible story circulating about Kevin Richardson, the so-call “Lion Whisperer,” a South African zoologist (not the Backstreet Boy) who playfully interacts with lions and hyenas on animal sanctuaries. While watching the video, I kept thinking to myself this guy is crazy and going to end up like the Steve “Crocodile Hunter” Irwin or Timothy Treadwell, the subject of the film Grizzly Man, who were both killed by the wild animals they studied. In comparison though, there is something very fascinating and almost otherworldly about how comfortable Richardson is with these lions—they actually know him and…

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    Groundhog Day: Metaphor for a Lot of Things

    Sunday was Groundhog Day. As is my tradition (and should be yours if it isn’t already), I watched Groundhog Day the film, again (BING!). I also watched the DVD extras, which include some fascinating commentary from director Harold Ramis, also of Stripes, Caddyshack, and (Egon in) Ghostbusters fame. Unfortunately, the DVD special features I want to share with you are not available online, but I found a very similar and short interview with Ramis below. In these interviews he explains why the film continues to be a timeless existential classic applicable to anyone’s life situation, or religion, capable of saying new things to them each time they watch it. By the way, if you haven’t seen Groundhog Day yet, it’s about time—don’t wait till next February. Buy it so you can watch the special features.

    Click here for an excerpt from another similar interview with Ramis.

    groundhog clock

    In Gratitude of A Love Supreme

    In Gratitude of A Love Supreme

    I recently read Tim Keller’s book on work, Every Good Endeavor. One of the most important takeaways for me was learning more about John Coltrane, who is the inspiration for Keller’s title. Keller quotes the original liner notes to Coltrane’s most famous album, A Love Supreme, which use the words “every good endeavor.” This week I bought the album, something I should have done a long time ago. Here are those original liner notes, now in a CD booklet. Keller only excerpts the notes, but I feel the whole thing was worth sharing—”a love supreme” turns out to be Coltrane’s…

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    Under Pressure on Modern Family

    I was recently thinking how ABC’s Modern Family just isn’t as good as it used to be (for me) and that I kind of watch it out of duty nowadays. And then, BAM! They produce probably one of their better/best episodes ever. It revolves around high school anxieties, SATs, and college admissions: “Under Pressure.” The theme is certainly timely since this is the time of year many high schoolers start hearing back from college and university admissions offices. The unquestionable hero of this episode? Claire Dunphy. You have to watch the entire clip below to find out why:

    Top 10 Things I Wanted to Blog about in 2013 but Was Too Lazy

    Top 10 Things I Wanted to Blog about in 2013 but Was Too Lazy

    I happily come across more pieces of culture than I know what to do with each year (or month, or week, or day) that speak to the Christian Message. This is a good problem to have–it means a blog like Mbird or a preacher like me will never run out of new material. Not using it can feel burdensome though, because I want to talk about it all—and sometimes I just procrastinate and never get around to it. I lumped some highlights together here in truncated form, keeping this list limited to the top ten (maybe 11) things I wanted to…

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    Telling Truth from the Underside

    Telling Truth from the Underside

    Despite a few recent Mbird nods, as of three weeks ago I had no idea who Nadia Bolz-Weber was. But she has come up in conversation, in text messages, and in my Facebook feed about a dozen times since then. So I decided to pay attention and buy her new book, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint. Because I’m always on the lookout for how the humorous dimension links up with the theological, I was pleasantly surprised to read that Bolz-Weber is a former comedian with some thoughts on how standup comedy is an attempt at telling the…

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    On TV: Why I Like this Show So Much? It’s With You

    On TV: Why I Like this Show So Much? It’s With You

    Last TV season I created something of a niche here on Mbird with commentary on NBC’s Parenthood. Although I am excited one of my favorite programs was renewed (after some doubts), I’ve been admittedly uninspired to write on the new season until now. And unlike most posts on current TV programs, this one has no spoiler alert since I don’t give away too much—this is more of a meta-analysis on why I think the show has such a devoted almost cult-like following. Basically, I want you to watch it if you aren’t, and if you’re obsessed like me, perhaps these…

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