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    On Our Bookshelf (This Time Around)

    As summer winds down, here’s what we’ve been reading over here at Mockingbird HQ (and on sabbatical), as published in the Love & Death Issue

    Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

    George Saunders’ widely acclaimed first novel addresses death, grief, and the afterlife. Narrated by a graveyard full of, um, lively ghosts, this novel is a roller coaster from start to finish. With humor and empathy, Saunders powerfully illustrates that “the truth will set you free.”

    Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott

    Published this spring, Lamott continues to sing the song of grace: “Mercy is radical kindness. Mercy means offering or being offered aid in desperate straits. Mercy is not deserved. It involves forgiving the debt, absolving the unabsolvable.” Pulling from St. Augustine and the Dalai Lama, she weaves her thoughts on mercy with such honesty and humor that you might feel like you’re sitting down as one of her Sunday School students.

    The Kingdom by Emmanuel Carrère

    Emmanuel Carrère’s new book (novel? memoir? biography?) on St. Paul and the early Christians often reads like a diary fused with historical fiction. Carrère, well-known in France for his unique non-fiction storytelling, believes that the only way he can really communicate a subject is by looking as honestly as possible at himself. In this book, then, that means capturing the New Testament through his own relationship with and (un-)belief in its God. A powerfully honest and captivating reimagining of both the nature of belief and the radical message Paul carried.

    The Unmade Bed: The Messy Truth about Men and Women in the 21st Century by Stephen Marche

    Stay-at-home dads get no respect, women are still almost never in the boardroom, and feminism has failed us. Why, Marche ponders, have we come so far and are still inundated with the same bizarre problems? Because women are still women and men are still men, and no one wants to make the damned bed. If you are in ministry, your premarital counseling couples should read this brilliant book alongside Capon’s Bed and Board.

    My Utmost: A Devotional Memoir by Macy Halford

    Halford, who spent several years working as a staffer at The New Yorker, writes with immense care and loyalty about the devotional that shaped (and continues to shape) her life, Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. Halford, who was raised in an Evangelical family in Dallas, uses the devotional (and Chambers’ own life story) as a way of excavating her own life and Christian faith.

    Against Everything: Essays by Mark Greif

    Greif is the co-founder of culture magazine n+1. This book synthesizes the strangeness of the modern world by challenging it and unpacking everyday taboos like exercise, hipsters, and punk music. Greif shows his cards as an Enneagram 8, but that doesn’t stop him from writing some real sizzlers on everyday life through a decidedly intellectual lens.

    Abandon Me: Memoirs by Melissa Febos

    One of our guests on The Mockingcast, Febos’ cutting collection of memoirs wrestles with addiction and sexuality and offers up a gratifying depth of spirituality. Her riff on the Jonah story and our innate calling towards “choose your own adventure stories” is one for the ages. She writes, “every love is a sea monster in whose belly we learn to pray.”

    The Idiot by Elif Batuman

    Ripping its title from a Dostoevsky classic, Elif Batuman’s debut novel follows Selin through her first year at Harvard. Upon arriving at school, she’s given an email address, her first. One night, she sends a snappy message to Ivan, the mysterious boy in her Russian class, and hilarity ensues. The romance would fit well in a 19th century novel—excepting Selin and Ivan’s preferred form of communication. Armed with a healthy suspicion of her surroundings and a sharp wit, Selin makes for a revelatory, refreshing narrator.

    Why Won’t You Apologize? Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts by Harriet Lerner

    This little book ranks up there with our other social science fave, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me). Lerner gives us a powerful glimpse into all the strategies and self-deceptions we have around our wrongdoing–on what counts as an apology, and on what keeps us from giving (and receiving) it. She also insightfully keys in on the prime impulse that makes the non-apologizer a non-apologizer: the need to be perfect.

    Phases: Poems by Mischa Willett

    Poems playful, at times, epigrammatic, conscious of things Italian and incongruous—they are delightful and plain spoken, rhythmic and musical, at times difficult enough to slow the reader’s march through them, most times sufficiently welcoming and placed (e.g., the Pacific Northwest) to keep the reader coming back for more. The collection’s nine brief sections are laid out as though phases of a voyage. An exciting new volume in the Poiema Poetry Series (Cascade Books), curated by poet/editor D. S. Martin.

    After God’s Own Heart: Life, Death, and the Gospel in the Story of King David ~ Nick Lannon

    In this wonderful talk from our recent conference in NYC, Nick Lannon helps us understand the story of King David in relation to our everyday lives.

    After God’s Own Heart: Life, Death, and the Gospel in the Story of King David ~ Nick Lannon from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

    Hopelessly Devoted: John Chapter Five Verses Twenty-Two Through Twenty-Seven

    Hopelessly Devoted: John Chapter Five Verses Twenty-Two Through Twenty-Seven

    This morning’s devotion was written by John Zahl. 

    The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life. “Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice…

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    A Message from Christ Church in Charlottesville

    A Message from Christ Church in Charlottesville

    As a follow-up to his recent sermon, here is the message Rector Paul Walker sent to his parishioners at Christ Church in Charlottesville—relevant for all of us left shocked and dismayed by the events of last Saturday.

    Dear Friends,

    Evil is not a word to be used lightly. But it is a word that is squarely within the canons of Christian scripture, theology, and tradition. If you have participated in one of the many baptisms at Christ Church, you will have heard  the minister ask the following question to the parents and godparents of the baptismal candidate. “Do you renounce the evil…

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    Architects, Madmen and Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death

    Architects, Madmen and Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death

    Freud, Kierkegaard, and the drug lord Heisenberg…A free peek into the Love & Death Issue, which people continue to tell us is their favorite issue thus far. Here is Ethan’s piece on the classic, Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death. If you subscribe to the magazine, and add the code JESSEPINKMAN in the notes section of your order, we’ll send a free copy to a friend of your choosing.

    And on the pedestal, these words appear:
    My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
    Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone…

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    "Bring Your Baby to Hospice Day," by Sarah Condon

    “Bring Your Baby to Hospice Day,” by Sarah Condon

    The following is an excerpt from one of Mockingbird’s best-selling books, Churchy: The Real Life Adventures of a Wife, Mom, and Priest, by Sarah Condon. If you haven’t bought your copy yet…what are you waiting for?! Now available on Kindle and in paperback.

    Parents today are raising a bunch of ice monsters. At least, that’s what the endless stream of articles explaining how to “teach” compassion seems to suggest. We are told to talk to our kids at eye level or to let them speak at great length about their feelings. We worry that we must train them to be emotionally…

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    Multiple Marriages to the Same Spouse ~ Debbie and Ellis Brazeal

    From our recent conference in NYC, here is a wonderful talk about the dance of marriage:

    Multiple Marriages to the Same Spouse ~ Debbie and Ellis Brazeal from Mockingbird on Vimeo

    Jesus Comes Aboard the Ship of Fools: A Sermon for Charlottesville

    Jesus Comes Aboard the Ship of Fools: A Sermon for Charlottesville

    The following incredibly powerful and comforting sermon was delivered yesterday by Paul Walker, Rector at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville (next door to the rallies from this past weekend).

    Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

    Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the…

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    Where Glen Campbell Is Going

    In honor of the country music legend, we bring you one of his great songs, written, of course, by the great Jimmy Webb. Webb called Campbell his “big brother and co-culprit.” He described Campbell’s stage presence this way:

    Just thinking back I believe suddenly that the “raison d’etre” for every Glen Campbell show was to bring every suffering soul within the sound of his voice up a peg or two. Leave ’em laughin’. Leave them feeling just a little tad better about themselves; even though he might have to make them cry a couple of times to get ’em there. What a majestically graceful and kind, top rate performer was Glen on his worst night!

    One Day At A Time Is No Way To Live: Love, Death, and Parenting Teenagers

    One Day At A Time Is No Way To Live: Love, Death, and Parenting Teenagers

    A first sneak peek into the Love & Death Issue, which you can order here. It comes from the one and only Emily Skelding. Remember, subscribers/monthly givers get a discount on the upcoming D.C. Conference!

    I relish long-term planning and list-making. During this academic year, I planned to write a book, my son Sumner strategized to get into his first-choice college, and my daughter Ramona declared she wanted to take an extra math class in her free time. We broke our big goals into littler ones and scripted the things we had to do to get there. Looking ahead is my…

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    From the Onion: Picture Most Closely Resembling Actual Self Immediately Deleted

    CORVALLIS, OR—Instantly repulsed by the startling image, local woman Monica Arquette immediately deleted a picture that, above all others ever taken of her, most closely resembled her actual self, sources reported Monday. “God, I hate this one,” said Arquette, promptly wiping from her phone’s memory the most authentic photo of her currently in existence, both in representing her physical form and in capturing her overall essence as a person. “I look so weird. Not a chance I’m showing this hideous thing to anyone.” At press time, Arquette was thrilled with a picture that vaguely approximated her actual self if squinted at long enough.

    Count On It – A Judd Hirsch Moment with Jim Munroe

    An illustration that just may whet your appetite for the D.C. Conference

    Count On It: The Essence of Mockingbird and Why Judd Hirsch is Like Jesus ~ Jim Munroe from Mockingbird on Vimeo.