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Did We Even See the Same Movie?: How Art Works, and Why It Matters – Alissa Wilkinson

Grateful for this wonderful talk from special guest NYC Conference speaker Alissa Wilkinson, film critic for Vox and co-author of How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World.

Did We Even See the Same Movie?: How Art Works, and Why It Matters – Alissa Wilkinson from Mockingbird on Vimeo

Abstract Doubt

Abstract Doubt

Even when procrastinating on YouTube, I still exhibit the embarrassingly obscure interests of a unadulterated nerd. A week ago, a friend caught we wasting time while mesmerized by a clip of English change-ringing—a intricate method of chiming church bells of various tones to produce an eerie, ordered clamor. Sometimes I also watch lectures on theology or literary theory (I spent not a few hours on the latter last summer). Mostly though, if I want to put off work, I find videos on art history, and I will happily consume anything from Lascaux to Nouveau to Rothko. Recently I stumbled…

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The Role of Art (Or, the Limitations of Self-Help) in Life and Work

The Role of Art (Or, the Limitations of Self-Help) in Life and Work

This one comes to us from Mark Casper.

Recently I came across an article in The New Yorker that nearly bowled me over. It’s called Improving Ourselves to Death by Alexandra Schwartz, and it thoroughly outlines the negative consequences of living in a “self-improvement culture.” You may remember the post that appeared on Mockingbird earlier this year about it.

At one point, Schwartz quotes a line from British journalist Will Storr, author of Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing to Us. “We’re living in an age of perfectionism, and perfection is the idea that kills,” Storr writes. “People are suffering and dying under…

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…Mistakes Were Made…

…Mistakes Were Made…

Some of us are so scared of being outed as human that we go to extreme measures to avoid any indication that we make mistakes. Architects, like me, are especially loath to admit error.

You could say architects are conditioned to have ‘ego on steroids’ since the job is to manifest complete confidence in the unbuilt. Hence, we are conditioned to project belief in the unknown. For me, fully flawed, I consider design an act of faith, not hubris. But for most of my peers, design is living out their truth, as revealed by their genius.

No, really, that is the ethic….

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This Table Set For Us: Babette’s Feast

This Table Set For Us: Babette’s Feast

This review was written by David B. Witwer.

We shuffle up the scarlet steps to find the stage already set for us. There is no curtain; sitting down we are transported from the city into a kitchen—marked by a long, simple table and wooden beams standing sentry. Bits of glass dangle overhead, awaiting the light.

We are greeted by many voices. The ever-shifting chorus reveals Berlevåg to us, a quaint town led by a minister who preaches that “God’s paths run across the sea and the snowy mountains, where man’s eye sees no track.” We find that, astonishingly, the villagers have interpreted…

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Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and the Problems of Postmodern Narrative

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and the Problems of Postmodern Narrative

From May 27th to June 4th, 1940, the French port city of Dunkirk witnessed one of the most significant and history-altering military operations ever undertaken, the evacuation across the English Channel of nearly 400,000 British and French soldiers, right from under the teeth of the German army. You would know nearly nothing about it from watching Christopher Nolan’s Oscar-nominated Dunkirk, which is up for awards for best picture, best director, cinematography, production design, sound editing, and original score.

This is because Dunkirk isn’t really about the historical Dunkirk; it’s about Nolan’s artistic-cinematic vision. It’s a vision most critics raved about, rounding…

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Heaven for Heretics: A Vision from Coco (and Memaw)

Heaven for Heretics: A Vision from Coco (and Memaw)

This past October my grandmother went home to Jesus. She was as faithful as they come and her absence has left a hole in the heart of our family. It is one that will not be filled this side of heaven.

Her funeral was in a small Southern Baptist church with simply stained glass windows and one of the most pastoral preachers I have encountered. Really, we could not have asked for anything more beautiful.

And yet, one thing stayed with me. And it’s not a complaint but more of a longing. There was very little mention of my grandfather,…

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Psychomachia, 8-Balls, and Alien Righteousness

Psychomachia, 8-Balls, and Alien Righteousness

This one comes to us from RJ Coburn.

Psychomachia is the name given to the common trope found in movies, television, and comic strips when a character is dealing with temptation. Two versions of his or her self appear, an angel version and a devil version. Commonly, the devil is on the left shoulder (or standing on the left, if shown as a full-sized person) and the angel on the right. This represents the battle of the soul, or as Homer tells Lisa on an episode of The Simpsons, “Inside every man is a struggle between good and evil that cannot…

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The Gospel of Alexander Hamilton

The Gospel of Alexander Hamilton

If you haven’t yet snagged your e-version of Never Satisfied Until Satisfied In Thee: Finding Grace in Hamilton, now’s your chance! Mockingbird’s latest e-book is a wonderful collection of gospel-centered essays about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s landmark musical, Hamilton. Edited by Tim Peoples and Cort Gatliff, this e-book features fresh essays by Stephanie Phillips, Michael Sansbury, Lauren R.E. Larkin, Margaret Pope, Matthew Linder, Amanda McClendon, and the editors themselves.

The following excerpt comes from Cort’s introduction:

My life can be divided into two distinct eras: Before Hamilton and After Hamilton. On October 1, 2015, after months of following the online hysteria and critical acclaim, the former era came to an…

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Anne Lamott and What Dies (and Grows) in the Creative Struggle

Anne Lamott and What Dies (and Grows) in the Creative Struggle

If you write, you’ve probably read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. She is the shy, neurotic, wise, funny, dread-locked, recovering alcoholic, who is a font of sanity and encouragement for many of us engaged in the compulsion of writing. Anne grew up in a family of atheists, but came to faith and got sober — in that order, as that sobriety wasn’t instantaneous. Her descriptions of the struggles and joys of parenting, the messiness of life, and the wonders of being part of a church family are alternately hilarious and weepingly beautiful.

There aren’t many interviews with her, but when…

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Love the Art, Hate the Artist?

Love the Art, Hate the Artist?

A phenomenal piece from our friend, Abby Farson Pratt, who asks what we do when we’re all monsters. 

We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves these days. We are doing a lot of smirking, a lot of finger-pointing, a lot of handing down of fatwas on Twitter.

When we cut someone off in traffic or lie to protect ourselves, we say, “Well, at least I’m not Harvey Weinstein. Or Louis C.K. Or Kevin Spacey. I’m not that bad.”

We enjoy this; we always have. It’s pleasant to publicly denounce others. Lately, we’ve been having a really good time. It seems like every other…

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Every Tear That Falls Must Converge: A Review of The Dusk In Us

Every Tear That Falls Must Converge: A Review of The Dusk In Us

After five long years, hardcore legends Converge are back. Their first album since 2012’s All We Love We Leave Behind, The Dusk In Us is an aptly titled exploration of the hurts and promises latent within a world receding from the light. And while Converge have matured with this album, that maturation in no way implies a mellowing of their characteristically caustic delivery. Scabrous, frenetic bombardments of metallic guitars and hyperkinetic drums support Jacob Bannon’s gargling-with-broken-glass vocals in ways both more damning and more life-affirming than ever. For no other band in this vale of tears better encapsulates the law/gospel…

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