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    Ubuntu and the Sharpened Pencils: Welcome Back to School

    Ubuntu and the Sharpened Pencils: Welcome Back to School

    Another back-to-school ode, this time from Ms. Newton.

    Over the next several weeks, children will enter new classrooms across the country, sporting shiny sneakers sans skid-marks and carrying freshly sharpened pencils and blank notebook paper. And they are perhaps a bit nervous (or a lot nervous) about unearthing the answer to a question they’ve been wondering for weeks: Who did I get this year? Who will stand in front of us every day, and with whom will I spend the next nine months? Is she a Miss Honey or a Miss Trunchbull? Will she encourage me or lock me in the…

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    PZ’s Podcast: Phony Wars, And the Winner Is, and The Federal Theology of Samuel Rutherford

    PZ’s Podcast: Phony Wars, And the Winner Is, and The Federal Theology of Samuel Rutherford

    Episode 172: Phony Wars

    This purports to be an attack of reality in the midst of “phony wars”.

    I am always struck by the truth of pop songs. Not all of them, but some of them. Such as “Waterloo” by ABBA. (Mary and I were there, as it were, when ABBA hit, stuck at a “Saturday Dance” (Geoff Goddard) during the spring of 1974 in the parish hall of Holy Trinity, Hounslow. As soon as we heard the song, and watched the girls line-dancing to ABBA, we knew we weren’t stuck any more. We got up ourselves, tho’ I’m no Diamond.)

    There was…

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    From the Magazine: The Hidden Spirituality of Teach For America

    From the Magazine: The Hidden Spirituality of Teach For America

    A throwback from the first issue! Ethan Richardson’s long-form treatise on the promise and perils of America’s great education reform movement.

    And let this be a reminder: the first issue is on sale on the magazine webpage for $10. And we’re not far from the release of the Fall Relationships Issue. Click here to subscribe.

    My two-year career as a teacher began much as my Evangelical education did—in a single summer in the Arizona desert, far and away from where my training would be put to use. Teach For America placed me in the Greater New Orleans region to teach middle school…

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    Hopelessly Devoted: John Chapter Four Verses Thirteen through Twenty Six

    Hopelessly Devoted: John Chapter Four Verses Thirteen through Twenty Six

    This morning’s edition in The Mockingbird Devotional comes from Ethan Richardson.

    “…Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life…” (John 4:13-26, ESV)

    Jesus is saying here that he doesn’t buy into all the things we pretend to be. These are all portions of the same shallow water—the human propensity to “be okay.” We all posture in this way—sometimes we forget we’re even doing it…

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    PZ’s Podcast: If You Can’t Stand the Heat

    EPISODE 171: If You Can’t Stand the Heat

    IMG_3572Guess I never tire of quoting Gerald Heard’s maxim about opting out: “The verb to escape is clear enough — it means to leave a position which has become impossible.”

    There’s a long back-and-forth within the history of Christian endeavor as to the relative merit of engaging a fallen world in the hope of transforming it; or opting out of it in order to watch, wait and pray. Many dedicated saints have taken the first road. Many others have taken the second. There is obviously room for both.

    This podcast examines the second road, and offers another element, too. You could entitle the talk “Feel to Heal”. I believe it, in any event.

    Something happened to me on the 26th of July in London, Ontario. I knew it was happening when it was happening. It was even captured “on tape”. You can hear it at the end of this cast, about five minutes into the concluding music. “Good God,” I said to my friend — over the shouting — “he’s really doing it!” Speechless we were. Hope you will be, too, in a good way.

    Identity, Ass, and the Wrong Context

    Identity, Ass, and the Wrong Context

    Emily Newton on the new phenomenon of social media anonymity, and the teenage quest for a powerful new name.

    Just One of the Guys?

    Just One of the Guys?

    Stephanie Phillips on what it means to be a woman (sort of) in Jenny Lewis’s new album, The Voyager.

    NBW on the God Hanging From the Cross

    The first in a series of excerpts from our recent interview with preacher and author Nadia Bolz Weber. The full interview can be found in the new issue of The Mockingbird. Suffice it to say, this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

    PT-and-NBWMBIRD: It seems like what you’re describing most churches doing is theology of glory, rather than theology of the cross. Can you describe what you feel the difference is, theologically?

    NBW: Yeah, the theology of glory is a lot of times the God that we project and expect. Basically, God is just as fear-mongering and spiteful and violent as we are. And theologians of glory stand above the cross looking down on it, sort of condemning the world.

    But theologians of the cross, we see God where we don’t expect it. It is not the God we’ve created in our image. It is this completely unexpected, almost disturbingly counter-intuitive, totally offensive inversion to what we call power. Right? So, that is disturbing. Ultimately, the only thing that can save us is a God we couldn’t just concoct ourselves—a bigger version of us. And this God is not standing over the cross in condemnation of the world but actually hanging from the cross.

    I feel like the theology of the cross—this idea that God is most present in human suffering, and these places where we wouldn’t expect any self-respecting God to show up—is uniquely poised to speak to this generation right now… I think people are aware of their suffering. They are aware of the suffering of others, the trauma of modern life, knowing about every single natural disaster and school shootings. They are carrying that around, and I feel like theology of the cross has something to say to that in a way that super-duper, cheerful, positive, human-empowerment Christianity never can.

    For more, click here to order or subscribe to The Mockingbird.

    Exciting News! Big Expansion to The Mockingpulpit

    MPULPIT1One of the projects our interns have been working on this summer is an expansion of our sermon archives. We’re happy to let you know that the first stage is completed and ready for your enjoyment!

    The expansion is comprised of two large “collections”: one from long-time Mbird contributor RJ Heijmen, whose sermons from his time at St Paul’s in New York have been added, and the second from Paul Zahl, whose sermons from his tenure as Dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, AL have been added, over 130 in total. A few references may be a little dated now, but the core message is anything but. Together, they represent two generations of preaching the Gospel of grace in a fresh and down-to-earth way that we hope will be helpful and refreshing. All 130 are searchable by scripture and date.

    Subscribe to The Mockingpulpit podcast by clicking here. New sermons added every week!

    P.S. Loyal listeners: Don’t be shy about giving The Mockingpulpit a rating/review on iTunes. We need all the help we can get spreading the word.

    True Colors: Car Choices, Food Sources, and the Fauxthenticity of Our Times

    True Colors: Car Choices, Food Sources, and the Fauxthenticity of Our Times

    Now a month out from its release to your doorsteps, it’s now time to leak just a few samplings of what’s in our summer issue of The Mockingbird. If you feel you missed your chance, fear not! Click here and we’ll set you up.

    This essay comes James Gilmore, business school professor and co-author of Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want and The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage, both published by Harvard Business School Press. In this essay, Gilmore examines the pervasive and nuanced Economy of Authenticity, where the myth of what is “real” is what…

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    Hopelessly Devoted: Mark Chapter Ten Verses Thirty Five to Forty Five

    Hopelessly Devoted: Mark Chapter Ten Verses Thirty Five to Forty Five

    This morning’s devotion comes from the Reverend Doctor Dave Johnson.

    …And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able”… (Mark 10:35-45, ESV)

    A couple of years ago I read a book by John Maxwell called Failing Forward, which is about moving forward when things in our lives do not go…

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    Let’s Hear It for the Boys… And Girls

    Let’s Hear It for the Boys… And Girls

    Another great contribution from Stephanie Phillips:

    “This could be our last big surprise in life,” I said to my husband on our way to the gender-reveal ultrasound of our second child a couple of months ago. He laughed at the melodrama of the statement even as we both acknowledged that the news was likely to be anticlimactic, since the perinatologist had already guessed–and we had suspected–that we were having another boy. An hour later, our suspicions were confirmed. I was set to be the lone female in a house populated by Y chromosomes.

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    Introducing Eden and Afterward – Will McDavid

    Another gem from our conference from Will McDavid, discussing his new book, Eden and Afterward.

    Eden and Afterward: Introducing a Mockingbird Guide to Genesis ~ Will McDavid from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

    Stephen Colbert and the Ancient Pulpit of Satire – Ethan Richardson

    Another installment of our NYC Conference recordings, which ironically came the week before Stephen Colbert made the move to late night. Ethan talks about the weakness that is power in the ancient practice of satire.

    Stephen Colbert and the Ancient Pulpit of Satire ~ Ethan Richardson from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

    2014 Fall Conference in Houston TX (10/17-18) – Pre-Registration Now Open!

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    Grace works without requiring anything on our part. It’s not expensive. It’s not even cheap. It’s free. – Robert Capon

    The grace of God does not play it safe. It is imprudent, risky, foolish. It cannot be contained by the walls we build and masks we wear. It moves beyond deserving, pushing the envelope of forgiveness and dispersing the shadows of shame and guilt. God, “whose property it is always to have mercy”, does not flinch from reality–not from our hopes and dreams, our hurts and disappointments, our proudest moments or most embarrassing failures.

    This October, at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Houston, TX, we invite you to explore “The Risk of Grace” with us, how the Gospel fearlessly addresses the control freak in us all. Our keynote speaker will be preacher and author Tullian Tchividjian. He will be joined by a host of Mockingbird contributors, including David Zahl, Sarah Condon, Aaron Zimmerman, and RJ Heijmen. The Rev. David Browder will serve as the conference chaplain. We’ve even enlisted one of our favorite Texas singer-songwriters, Slaid Cleaves, to play a concert for us!

    As always, the emphasis will be on where the freedom of the Gospel touches down in places that matter (and some that don’t), from romance and parenting to pop culture and social media, theology and literature, and lots more. Look for info about accommodations next week and the full schedule in early August. The event will run all day on Friday (9am-9pm) and half-day on Saturday (9am-12:30pm). The conference fee is $60, which covers the full program, plus lunch and dinner on Friday (which will be delicious). Childcare is provided for all the main sessions.

    CLICK HERE TO PRE-REGISTER TODAY