Mockingbird is devoted to connecting the Christian message with the realities of everyday life in fresh and down-to-earth ways.
This comes from Howie Espenshied.
Emmitt Smith, NFL all-time rushing leader–fired! Shannon Sharpe, an NFL hall of famer who finished his career atop all of the tight end categories–fired! (last week). Dan Marino, retired with the most broken records of any quarterback in history–fired! (also last week). Joe Montana, the greatest NFL QB of all-time, was encouraged to quit before he was fired. What do these four have in common? They were all dismissed from the jobs they took immediately after their storybook NFL careers ended. “Network NFL Studio Analyst” was the career of choice.
What happened? Certainly they are all subject…
We continue our tradition of anonymous Ash Wednesday reflections on rest:
…the night cometh, when no man can work.
-John 9:4, KJV
Four hours last week, followed by a full day of breakneck productivity. Those of us who pride ourselves on working without sleep find solace in our indefatigable nocturnal spirits, sustained by too many cigarettes and too much caffeine. Sleep is the last frontier, someone once said. Humans only have to transcend our embarrassingly creaturely need for sleep, and we can double our productivity. As Roger Ekirch discusses in his recent At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, people used to see night as a time for vital rest and leisure, more than a mere “dormant interlude between working hours”, as he puts it, night in various times past was divided into ‘watches’, structured with an quasi-liturgical respect. I’m proud to need little sleep sometimes. It allows me to function outside the limits of the dead zone, an eight-hour interval which seems to shrink as the demand for productivity rises.
Sometimes it’s something productive, like a book or article. Other times, it’s one more beer, another cigarette on the porch, another episode of How I Met Your Mother. It’s as if leisure is some active salve that must be applied to a day’s work, and going to bed earlier can make you miss out on leisure, too. It’s effectively a fear of missing out. We’re overwhelmed by a bevvy of experiences during the day, and even more activity has to heal the stress. We procure this healing for ourselves with TV or other activities. Leaving things be is difficult. And if the day has been unfulfilling, we can delay going to sleep, admitting defeat; instead I want to re-raise the stakes with a losing hand, salvage the miniscule ante.
Sleep is a daily brush with death. It’s the closest we come to death’s passivity, that total negation of experience and selfhood. And yet death seems more inevitable so sleep, for now, is the last frontier: vanquish that and we have more time to fulfill ourselves, to develop into those ideal, actualized men and women we yearn to be. But it catches up: even if science finds some way to solve the lack of energy after a bad night’s sleep (or a full string of them), it will not be able to address the anxiety and grumpiness. That burden of selfhood and fulfillment-chasing does catch up, eventually.
Buy stock in Sleepytime® tea. We find it harder to sleep than ever now, and the aids we need progressively more of are selling, cropping up in new stores every day. With all our activity, the efficiency provided by computers and modeling and instruments and machinery, the one thing we’re getting worse at is sleep. It feels too much like death, because it sort of is. So much missing out, so many opportunities for achievement or leisure or self-fulfillment we are missing. On Ash Wednesday, we receive the imposition of ashes: “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Life “imposes” sleep on us as a daily reminder of mortality. And that involuntary and unchosen imposition relieves us, above all, from our restless and irrepressible daily justifications. May we remember we are dust, and there find God’s rest.
Just in time for Ash Wednesday, we are getting word that copies of the first issue of The Mockingbird are (finally) making their way into your mailboxes. If you are on our mailing list, and yours has not made its way to you yet, fear not, it should be there by week’s end.
And what better way to honor the holiday of our ashes than take a look into R-J Heijmen’s essay on, yes, death? It appears on page 100 of the first issue.
If you have not signed up to receive The Mockingbird, it’s not too late. Come one,…
This preview comes to us from Win Bassett. To register for the NYC Conference, now just four weeks away, go here.
Reynolds Price, from little old Macon, North Carolina, graduated from Duke University, attended Merton College at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, traveled across Europe, befriended artists on the cusps of their fame, and landed a job as a professor back in Duke’s English Department by the time he turned 25. Four years later he published his first novel, A Long and Happy Life, which won the William Faulkner Foundation Award and sold over a million copies. Price published several more…
Recently a friend asked me to recommend something that a young man considering a call to ordination might profitably read. I went through “the usual suspects” (i.e., Bishop Lightfoot, John Stott, W.H. Griffith-Thomas), but actually came up with a novel, or rather a novella, to help him spell out the issues.
It is sometimes true that a work of art — a song or painting or short story or movie — gets through to me in a way that propositional non-fiction, say Bishop Lightfoot’s treatise on the ministry, does not, or maybe even cannot. I believe this is because music or…
This morning’s entry from the Mockingbird Devotional comes from Sean Norris.
Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7, NIV)
Life is a game of denial. In fact, I would argue that most of the things we fill our day with are, or at least can be, tools for denial. Work, play, shopping, television, relationships, hobbies, philosophies—anything can be used to manipulate the reality of things gone wrong. It would not be too far to say that Christianity itself has often been used as a tool of reality-rejection.
People often have a sober view of themselves around the time of…
Here’s another (timely) sports piece from Howie Espenshied.
Any time the US faces Russia in Olympic men’s ice hockey, as they did on February 15th, the “Miracle on Ice” game in Lake Placid, NY in 1980 is brought to mind. This one ended much the way that one did, with the US securing a dramatic 1 goal victory. However, noticeably absent was the Cold War setting that helped the ending of that legendary game become arguably the greatest sports moment of all-time.
Much has changed in the last 34 years. In 1980, the US only sent amateur athletes to the Olympics, while Russia…
This comes from biology nerd Lex Booth.
Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.’ — Genesis 11:4
Life in college during the cold & flu season is like navigating a Petri dish. A roommate’s sneeze is enough to fill a house with the dread of an impending epidemic. When a classmate coughs nearby, there is no sympathy, just offense by such blatant irresponsibility: ‘How dare you? Don’t you know I have an interview next week?’ Parents of small children are equally familiar…
Some thoughts on grace and the new LEGO movie come from Michael Belote, author of the wonderful reboot:Christianity blog and author of Rise of the Time Lords, doubtless the best (review here) geeky intro to Christian doctrine available.
Something weird is happening in Hollywood. Just four months ago, the world was introduced to Frozen, a children’s movie chock-full of theological nuance. As I wrote at the time, I felt like this was the best religious movie in years, and figured it would be quite a while until I saw something similar.
Boy was I wrong.
A few weeks ago, I took my sons (who are…
EPISODE 163: Deetour
The Contraption just keeps getting bigger. And I sort of wish He’d stop.
This podcast shows Him widening His sphere of influence. Is the “widening” welcome? Well, yes, if you believe that Karen Young, in her magnificent song “Deetour”, speaks the truth. (How can what she sings be denied?)
I also talk about job searches in the parish ministry, and rector search committees. (How could one have been so blind?) Blame it on the Contraption!
Episode 163 is dedicated to JAZ, the Minister of Edits.
EPISODE 164: Happy Clappy
I feel like in order to begin, you have to come to the end….
The first issue of The Mockingbird, our brand new quarterly magazine, is in the mail! If you signed up for our mailing list, you should have one coming to you, free of charge. If haven’t, sign up before March 1st and we’ll happily send you one. If you want to subscribe, look no further than magazine.mbird.com. (Remember, Mockingbird’s monthly donors receive a free subscription!)
In the meantime, here’s the line-up for our maiden voyage.
The Real Real Orange County: Looking Back on MTV’s Laguna Beach by Dan Varley
There Is Nothing the Matter with My Heart: Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim and My Myth of Me by Zach Williams
For the Record: Mockingbird’s Netflix Queue, Must-Hear TED Talks, A Kurosawa Primer, Top 5 Church Debates, and an Elvis Gospel Playlist
Transformational: The Hidden Spirituality of America’s Great Movement by Ethan Richardson
“Friends Don’t Get Serious”: John Cassavetes, James Baldwin and Tall Tales of Angry Men by Charlotte Hornsby
When a Measure Becomes a Target: Inside the Economics of Repentance by Will McDavid
A New Way to Tell It: An Interview with Francis Spufford (click here for a preview)
A Vision for the Storms by Blake Ian Collier
Coming to Terms with the American Hero Fix by Sarah Condon
Dying to Live: What Are the Side Effects of the Modern Hospital? by R-J Heijmen
A few thoughts on some recent Internet Prodigal Son banter, from David Zahl and Will McDavid:
As much as I admire The NY Times, it’s not where I go to read about grace. You? And yet, David Brooks was back at it again this week, talking about the parable of the prodigal son(s) and endorsing grace as an essential factor in crafting social policy for those who’ve squandered their inheritance/potential/goodwill. Check it out:
We live in a divided society in which many of us in the middle- and upper-middle classes are like the older brother and many of the people who drop…
This morning’s sports column comes from our new sports writer Howie Espenshied.
I have the dubious privilege of being a high school basketball official. We’re the ones in stripes out there, only noticed when a mistake is made. Coming up through the ranks, some of the most pronounced heckling I have experienced have come from the parents during 12-year-old rec games. I have waved off my share of baskets because a sixth grader took several steps on his way to the hoop, but man, does that call ever incur the wrath of mom and dad. I don’t mind having my ancestry…
This one comes to us from Netflix aficionado/guru Joe Nooft:
It’s over. The carnage is finished. Some blood may have been shed, but we made it; we survived. Yes, Valentine’s Day came and went. Your sentiment to its 362 day hibernation probably banks on your personal Facebook status, or maybe the functionality of your love life. Depending on your relational footing, last week may have been on the receiving end of a stubborn battering ram armed with personal complaints, all strategically targeting last Friday’s holiday. Or perhaps you drowned last week in an overflow of pastel colored, heart shaped candies, tattooed…