Mockingbird is devoted to connecting the Christian message with the realities of everyday life in fresh and down-to-earth ways.
So much has been written — I mean, SO MUCH — concerning the so-called Historical Jesus: a welter of books and “Untersuchungen”. I’ve spent most of my career reading these books, and writing a few, too.
Then Pope Francis came along and put them all in a cocked hat. This is because if you want to see with your own eyes how Jesus operated in the New Testament — how he acted, how he spoke, how he was desired, and how he was received — all you need to do is watch Francis. Phrancis.
The way Christ was with Zacchaeus, Bartimaeus,…
From our friend Tim Peoples:
Weird Al is America’s favorite parodist and polka enthusiast, but he is less appreciated for his deeply sad songs about love. It should surprise no one that a parodist has no sincere love songs (so far as I know), but the intensity of his negative lyrics was jarring once I noticed it.
The prototypical example is “You Don’t Love Me Anymore”:
You slammed my face down on the barbecue grill
Now my scars are all healing, but my heart never will
You set my house on fire
You pulled out my chest hairs with an old pair of pliers…
Oh, you know…
Don’t miss this seventh installment of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem but your own. If you missed one or more of the previous installments, you can find them here. New installments will be posted every two weeks, on Tuesdays.
We’re searching for a collectively applicable definition of greed and, to help us do so, we’re investigating nine commonly cited concepts associated with the condition.
Last time we looked at relativity and learned that economically we compare ourselves to people just ahead of us in wealth and, comforting for our consciences, somebody always has more than we do, allowing us…
This one comes to us from Scott Larousse.
Last spring I was sitting in on a seminar on marriage at a prominent California university. The professor put forth a hypothetical about whether the state should recognize an intimate relationship based on a shared love of muscle-cars (rather than sex). Like a sort of intimate muscle-car form of romance. Although the bulk of students would’ve likely described themselves as liberal, it seemed like the hypothetical stretched them some. The appreciation in the room was palpable, like when you’ve been looking at a rabbit for several seconds but finally, you see the duck.
Today’s entry in The Mockingbird Devotional comes to us from Dylan Potter:
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7, NIV)
The topic of Romans 14:1-15:13 is love and Christian liberty. Those who are “strong,” Paul says, tend to look down upon the “weak,” and their attitude is counterproductive to genuine Christian community. It’s certainly no less tempting now to gauge others: in the work place or in church Bible studies, the everyday appraisals are everywhere. In the previous chapter, Paul reminds the church in Rome not to allow their familiarity with grace to become a “stumbling block” to other believers— I shudder to think that he is writing about me.
Acceptance is a word we value in principle, but we’d rather not act on it. Acceptance simply goes too far for our tastes: we talk about “tolerance” or “hospitality,” but to think of acceptance in terms of Christ’s self-emptying kind of acceptance is veritably repulsive. At every corner we are inclined to say we have earned our stripes, that we have merited the privileges we so quickly withhold from those around us. A pastor once told me we only invite presumption and promote despair when we impose metrics upon others. He is correct because the word “accept” in 15:7 seems as if God is asking me to accept others as I’ve been accepted, and that acceptance isn’t one of my character traits.
The New Testament records numerous accounts when the early believers stumbled over this very same stone: Jew and Greek, male and female, slave and free. In fact this section is essentially Paul’s call for the Jewish believers in Rome to accept their Gentile counterparts, not as interlopers, but as brothers and sisters. The curious thing is that there is something about accepting the other that brings praise to God, perhaps because it best summarizes the condescension of Christ—to accept the other in Christ is to tell another person that we are just as shocked that God would welcome us. To view ourselves as Gentiles—this is still our stumbling stone! But most importantly, who knew that his resurrection was itself the confirmation that we are accepted by the Father every bit as much as he is accepted?
Did you cry at any point as you watched Pope Francis in action during his visit? If you did, when was it? What made you cry?
Now it wasn’t just John Boehner! I noticed as I watched the Pope inter-acting with individuals, and especially with individuals in acute need or distress, that it was those encounters that touched me personally. (I was abreacting all over the place.)
I don’t have spina bifida. I’m not in a wheelchair. I’m not six years old, nor…
Another excellent reflection from our friend, Tim Peoples.
The 2015 release of both a straightforwardly critical documentary and (based on the marketing so far) a celebratory biopic about Steve Jobs may give the impression that he is a polarizing figure, i.e., that Alex Gibney’s Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine and Boyle + Sorkin via Isaacson’s Steve Jobs represent, respectively, those who dislike and those who love the man. As Gibney shows in the introduction to The Man in the Machine, however, there is no meaningful bifurcation of opinion about Jobs’ legacy. The dominant cultural assumption, which the documentary was explicitly created to undermine, is that…
This reflection comes from our vagabond-in-recovery, Lizzie Stallings.
There is a certain restlessness that stems from living out of one’s car. Daily games of I-Spy become the modus operandi, resulting in frequent conversations with oneself—along with a staggering degree of comfort in talking quite audibly to no one:
“Where are my shoes? Ah, yes, under that box of oatmeal. But then, where is my wallet? Oh…here, wedged in the spine of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes—with my headlamp! Perfect! Ah, but wait… my keys? Oh yes, in my collapsible camping pot!”
This lifestyle was a result of my decision to…
Here is Ethan’s essay from last issue on the furthest reaches of forgiveness, and its foolishness in a world bent on justice. If you’re hoping to get in on a subscription before the sixth issue hits the press, you can do so here.
Somewhere in North Minneapolis in February of 1993, Mary Johnson received a visit from the police informing her that her only son, 20-year-old Laramiun Byrd, was dead. He had been shot and killed by a sixteen-year-old boy named Oshea Israel after a confrontation at a party. During the first months of grieving and into the trial period, Johnson…
This reflection comes from real-life grace bully, Scott Brand.
I have a pretty large dog who loves chasing squirrels. I know this is not a revelatory attribute, but my dog is less interested in catching and eating the squirrels and more interested in just chasing and playing with them. The problem is he unaware of how big he is, so it ends up being more of a Lennie-playing-with-rabbits scenario every time he catches one. Recently, I moved into a house that does not have a completely fenced in backyard, but now when I have to chain him up his tether doesn’t quite reach…
Another excerpt of our new Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints) book, this one comes from the “Fruits of Grace” section at the end of the book, our attempt to draw out some of the practical implications of the Gospel (without turning the message into a “means” to improvement/happiness/etc). The initial illustration comes from John Z’s Grace in Addiction, which adapts it from a talk by Rod Rosenbladt.
Imagine you fall off the side of an ocean liner and, not knowing how to swim, begin to drown. Someone on the deck spots you, flailing in the water and…