New Here?
     
About Mockingbird

Mockingbird is devoted to connecting the Christian message with the realities of everyday life in fresh and down-to-earth ways.

Contact

Author Archive
    

    It’s Up! The Humor Episode of The Mockingcast

    Sliding in right between last week’s podcast and next week’s live taping in NYC, we are delighted to deliver this ridiculous journey into the Humor Issue, at the direction of editor Ethan Richardson. Ethan is joined by Ben Maddison and Aaron Zimmerman, who provide enough foolishness on their own, as well as two special guests: Harrison Scott Key, author of The World’s Largest Man, which won the Thurber Prize for being funny, even when it was sad; and Caroline Henley, who invites us into the black, bizarro world of the short-lived, MTV2 comedy Wonder Showzen. We also play the first ever game of “Who Said It: Wonder Showzen or Soren Kierkegaard?” See if you can guess…

    That description alone can’t hold a candle to the fun that awaits you, both within the cast and in reading the magazine. A huge shout-out to TJ for the amazing mixing and production.

    LISTEN HERE!

    And get your copy of the magazine here, also available in digital format!

    Candy Cigarettes and Stubborn Grace — A Conference Breakout Preview

    This NYC Conference breakout preview comes to us from Daniel Emery Price.

    When I was thirteen, I was seen walking down the street “smoking cigarettes.” A woman in our church witnessed this “highly rebellious” and “brazenly defiant” act, and she immediately informed a different woman in the church who reported it back to my mother. This lady “just thought my mom should know” while informing her that I was no longer allowed to be friends with her son.

    My mother was outraged. I only know about this because I walked into a room where she was firing both barrels of an all-law sermon on gossip and slander to this other mother over the phone. I was completely freaked out as I had never seen my mother this angry before. But not angry at me—angry for me.

    I quickly exited the room to retrieve my backpack. While my mother proceeded to unload into the phone, I reached into my bag and pulled out the box of candy cigarettes I had been pretending to “smoke” while walking down the street. After I handed them to her, she hung up the phone with no reference to the evidence of innocence I had just provided

    “Why didn’t you tell her they were candy?!” I shouted.

    “Because it doesn’t matter,” she replied.

    I didn’t realize until much later that my mother was not defending my innocence. She didn’t think I was innocent. She was merely defending me. She was defending my reputation and was willing to sacrifice her own reputation (as a good Christian mother) out of love for me. It seems like a small thing, but that helped shape my thoughts on grace and Christ-like-ness.

    That is a short story, a parable of sorts. Jesus told a lot of those. People like short stories because our lives are made up of a long series of them.

    At the Mockingbird Conference in NYC, I will be sharing a few parables of Jesus (and a few of my own) to talk about our addiction to judgment and the stubborn nature of God’s grace.

    Don’t forget to register for the 11th Annual New York Conference!

    Lent Itself — A Conference Breakout Preview

    This conference breakout preview comes from Duo Dickinson.

    Between Ash & Maundy, I write in silence.

    It happens to be Lent. I happen to be at Level 23. I most always do this every day anyway, but 90 minutes, every day, is a lot.

    Like this morning, while writing, I trigger some unknown algorithm on my new iPad, and some weirdness happens, but stuff gets done.

    Like my childhood, it is a time of screaming. Almost every channel that I usually watch while working out every morning is trying to express a point, to validate its presence with a conviction. It is depressing.

    I retreat to Law & Order reruns when they are on, and I have missed those during these 40 days, and replays of NFL games. In these 40 days, I have heard no Joe Scarborough or Jack McCoy (or is it McCaughey?) for the 4th Lent.

    Four years ago, it was just Holy Week, where I ranted about what none of us know, but what is undeniable.

    The next year I wrote a modest set of observations, mostly to myself, about myself in the world.

    Last year I tried to be more thoughtful, graphically evocative, and then BANG (or better, POP) a defective vein burst and I missed a day, the Spring Equinox, with the first gap in two years, a planned gap, but not because I was in Yale Hospital, but because I was to be in DC. Which was cancelled. A good thing for those scheduled to fly and meet with me. (THANK YOU, God).

    That event framed all the other events since, even though apparently, according to all those doctors, I cured myself — despite 100 hospital hours and $64,000 of insurance. But I take 4 pills, every day. So this morning I am at 120/67BP with 49 HBM.

    This 40 day period is, intentionally, of the Flood, the Wilderness, and any other allusion the learned can divine. But Lent is, like, 45 days long, or 44 — because the Sunday’s should not count, but, that does not work out either, as there are 5, and Leap years, and…

    This year I initially noted the point guard on F&M’s basketball team was on the verge of an end of his 4 years that may be exceptional to the tiny number that care. It turned out to be mixed. He got the record 2,000 points, the 4th First Team All Conference, the NCAA Sweet 16 (D3). But missed all the national honors that were hoped for. If you cared about numbers you were happy and sad.

    Like Lent.

    Don’t forget to register for the 11th Annual New York Conference!

    Do I Feel a Draft? Keeping the Door Open for Reconciliation — A Conference Breakout Preview

    With one week left until our New York Conference, here’s another breakout preview. This one comes to us from Carrie Willard.

    Reconciliation might feel like something that is Someone Else’s Problem, preferably people who live at least an ocean away. Korea should probably get its act together, and the Middle East would also be a nice place to start. These conflicts are a nice, safe distance from our having to do anything about it. But reconciliation comes home in this conference breakout session, when we discuss reconciliation in family life.

    We’ll talk about family reconciliation close to home, especially about the sister who’s been missing from the Family Math for the past eighteen years. Even when reconciliation isn’t readily available on the deadline we’d prefer, we can count on God to keep the door open for that reconciliation as we move through the rest of our lives without a balanced, settled equation.

    We’ll also discuss the reconciliation in the House of Windsor, when the Queen of England felt called to reconcile with her uncle, the former King. Again, there’s no tidy, balanced equation in this family story, for all of the Queen’s desire to forgive.

    As Fleming Rutledge so aptly highlights in The Crucifixion, any reconciliation we might realize in this life is a temporary one. So why should we bother? With clips from Grumpy Old Men and Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, we’ll talk about asking God’s forgiveness for our own failings, and how we get in our own way of reconciliation.

    Don’t forget to register for the 11th Annual New York Conference! You won’t want to miss it!

    Hopelessly Devoted: Ecclesiastes Chapter Two Verses One Through Three and Verse Eleven

    Hopelessly Devoted: Ecclesiastes Chapter Two Verses One Through Three and Verse Eleven

    This devotion is for anyone with a case of the Mondays… From The Mockingbird Devotional, today’s entry was written by Todd Brewer:

    I thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless… when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:1-3, 11; NIV)

    1965 brought “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and it seems that the Stones were merely echoing the sentiments of the writer…

    Read More > > >

    The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everyone – John Zahl

    From our recent conference in Tyler, TX, here’s the incredible second talk from John Zahl, inspired by his book Grace in Addiction. Topics include: the founding of AA, the spirituality of the 12-steps, a plaid peg-leg, an empathetic high priest, and cat curling.

    The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everyone – John Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

    Not Weak on Sanctification: Christians Grow in Reverse – A Conference Break-Out Preview

    This breakout preview comes from longtime Mockingbird contributor Nick Lannon, who is also the Associate Rector of St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church in Louisville, KY.

    If you’re reading a post on (or reposted from) the Mockingbird website, chances are pretty good that, at one point or another, you’ve been accused of being “weak on sanctification.” I’ve even had a staff member of a previous church casually refer to the alleged fact that I “don’t believe in sanctification.”

    Is that true? What is certainly true is that most discussion of Christian growth rubs me the wrong way, depresses me, or makes me the kind of angry that I got when I heard they were remaking Point Break. But God is at work in us! He promised he would be!

    Clearly, some clarification is in order.

    For people who have, like thirsty vagrants crawling out of the desert, come to the fount of the Good News of the Gospel—that “it is finished” on account of Christ—sanctification can become, at best, a difficult subject to deal with, and, at worst, a dirty word. How can we talk about the work that God is doing in our lives without making it just another law? Is there a way to celebrate the activity of the Holy Spirit without becoming self-righteous Pharisees? Does talk of “sanctification” or “Christian maturity” necessarily lead to a ranked order of Christians stretching from Mother Teresa and Billy Graham at the top to death-row converts and your back-slidden college roommate at the bottom?

    At this break-out session, I’ll try to find a helpful way to talk about sanctification. There is a paradigm through which Christian growth can be discussed, believed in, and even celebrated. Spiritual maturity is neither unicorn nor bogeyman, but it does seem to work itself out in the exact opposite way of that which we are hard-wired to expect.

    So join me…afterwards, you can tell all your friends that you’re a more mature Christian than they are. Or not. Wait and see.

    You can still register for the 2018 Mockingbird Conference: The Grace of God in Divided Times. Click here to check out the full schedule. We hope to see you there!

     

    PZ's Podcast: Soul-Tie

    PZ’s Podcast: Soul-Tie

    Please note: PZ’s Podcast is now on Spotify!

    EPISODE 244

    This cast is a kind of summation of my thinking about romantic love in its relation to one’s soul’s salvation.

    I have thought about the compelling nature of romance — between two people, I mean — in both its positive, inspiring importance and also its possible negative and undermining impact. In fact, one has long searched for a key, the ‘haft’ that actually opens the door and heals one of scarring memories and long-carried-over inward losses.

    Not only has this theme of romantic love’s long-term vicissitudes been with me for awhile, but I’ve often…

    Read More > > >

    Finding God at Arby's: Reflections on Doubting Thomas

    Finding God at Arby’s: Reflections on Doubting Thomas

    This sermon was delivered this past Sunday in Charlottesville, by Sam Bush.

    This is a very exciting time for the church. It’s one week after Easter. The lilies are still up, the altar is in full splendor. We are living in the aftermath of Jesus’ resurrection. And today we see how the resurrection immediately plays out in the lives of his disciples. Jesus stands among them and everyone is shocked and then they rejoice. I picture it like the end of a movie — there’s a montage of all of them laughing, maybe messing up each other’s hair, or playing a…

    Read More > > >

    Everything I Never Learned from Seinfeld – David Zahl

    In this talk, from the recent Mockingbird conference in Tyler TX, DZ speaks about the personal and spiritual significance of Seinfeld’s trivial obsessions (9 seasons’ worth). It’s an abbreviated version of his essay featured in the just-released Humor Issue, which you can find here.

    Everything I Never Learned from Seinfeld – David Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

    On Bleeding Funny (A Magazine Sneak Peek)

    On Bleeding Funny (A Magazine Sneak Peek)

    Our first glimpse into the issue we’ve all been waiting for, this one comes from award-winning humorist Harrison Scott Key. Subscribers, orders should be hitting the mailbox this week! For the uninitiated, YAW! GIDDYUP! 

    When your book wins the Thurber Prize in American Humor, our nation’s most important literary prize for a funny book, people have a lot to say, such as, “Oh, wow, I’ve never heard of that award!” or “You still have to pay for your food.”

    Once, I was introduced at a book festival as, “Harrison Scott Key, winner of the largest and most important prize in…

    Read More > > >

    I Don’t Identify as Human: The Hidden Image of the Hidden God – A Conference Breakout Preview

    This NYC 2018 Conference breakout preview comes from Adam Morton, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church and associate pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, both in Lancaster, PA.

    Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

    You’ve heard that bit before. If not, purchase or steal a Bible (we can work on the ethics of acquisition later), and crack it open to the very first chapter. It’s a good read. This passage is one of the small set that might come out of the mouths of folks who have little or nothing to do with the church; nevertheless, they have heard that humanity is somehow the “image of God,” and this is surely important. But what does it mean?

    Modern life is such that the definition of a human being seems to be daily renegotiated. The pet food commercials tell me that my pair of cats (let us never speak of them again) and my son are more or less equal objects of my care. I doubt this, but clearly not everyone does, else General Mills wouldn’t have offered $8 billion to acquire Blue Buffalo. Various experts and news stories have warned me, repeatedly, that if the robots don’t rise up to kill us, they’ll seduce us instead—and that this sort of thing is one day going to be perfectly normal. Silicon Valley appears awash in the notion that humanity can be—no, that’s too weak—will be transcended by way of the proper application of consumer electronics to the body. Sad as it is to say, neither are we anywhere near rid of the notion that certain colors or other configurations of the anthropoid form are markedly less than human.

    Hear enough of this stuff and you might begin to suspect that we don’t yet really know what a human being is. This ancient notion of the image of God might be helpful in such a mess, if only we could pin it down. However, the thorny heart of the matter is that this image isn’t all that apparent in my daily life. I can’t see it, and while I could make several plausible suggestions as to its meaning, settling on which one (if any) is true is another matter—which means, strangely enough, that it has something in common with the God whose image it is supposed to be.

    In this conference breakout we’ll try to talk about this image-of-God thing, what it means for it to be hidden from us, and how this confusion impacts us on a daily basis. Along the way we’ll enlist the help of Johann Georg Hamann, the greatest 18th century German writer you’ve never heard of (yes, I know, that’s hardly a selling point—but trust me, this guy is hilarious in a very un-German and un-18th century way).

    You can sign up for the 11th annual Mockingbird conference here! No human beings will want to miss this!