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“Mockingbird Turns 10” Interviews: David Zahl

“Mockingbird Turns 10” Interviews: David Zahl

This is the first installment in a series of monthly interviews between myself and various Mockingbird writers and members of the Mockingbird community. These posts will explore some aspects of each individual’s personal story and some aspects of Mockingbird’s larger story and ministry as we celebrate its 10th Anniversary.

First Mockingbird Board Meeting, 2007

Charlotte Donlon: What has surprised you most about Mockingbird since it was started ten years ago?

David Zahl: Well. I’m surprised it’s still here. When we started, we had a pretty vague vision. We had our theological convictions (and some of our practical hopes) down, but we…

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(The Tide Decides) When The Hill and Wood Goes

(The Tide Decides) When The Hill and Wood Goes

If the cover of The Hill and Wood’s brilliant new record, When You Go, looks familiar, that’s because lead singer/songwriter Sam Bush and I share not only a long friendship but an affection for the work of Australian artist Jeremy Geddes. Sam somehow got permission for Geddes’s “Ascent”, part of his series of astronaut-slash-deepseadiver-floating-in-space paintings. No dove in this one, you’ll note. Instead, tentacles of fresh, slightly tangled plant-life are breaking through the voyager’s vacuum-sealed armor as he/she/it rises into the light. That’s no coincidence either.

The way Sam tells it, this record wasn’t supposed to happen. After a couple of…

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January Playlist

Time to ring in the new year with a new playlist (and a new article for Christianity Today, “500 Years After the Reformation, We Still Feel the Pressure to Be Justified”). Gulp gulp triple gulp:

P.S. I had help on that article (from a good family friend my favorite theologian.)

Chance the Rapper Wishes Jesus a Happy Birthday

Via this past Saturday’s SNL. Sublime:

Something for Almost Nothing: A Confession

Something for Almost Nothing: A Confession

All day I thought about the questions I would ask MC Lars and Mega Ran, two of my favorite rappers. I had already contacted both via social media and requested an interview, and both were game despite some obvious barriers (noise, crowd, other fans, merch sales). I thought, fruitlessly, about the interview questions at work, during the long drive to LA, and in line for admission, drinks, and finally merch and chatting. I observed Lars and Ran, the way they spent a lot of time on each fan. My interviews would be just fine, so long as I had some…

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Don’t Make a Movie About Me – Johnny Cash

Don’t Make a Movie About Me – Johnny Cash

From the Man in Black’s brand new collection of found poems.

Christmas 1982

If anybody made a movie out of my life
I wouldn’t like it, but I’d watch it twice
If they halfway tried to do it right
There’d be forty screenwriters workin’ day and nite
They’d need a research team from Uncle Sam
And go from David Allan Coe to Billy Graham
It would run ten days in the final cut
And that would mean leaving out the gossip smut
And I do request for my children’s sake
Don’t ever let ’em do a new re-make
The thing I’m sayin’ is, don’t you see,
Don’t make a movie ’bout me
Even for…

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Moana Leads the Way Home (and to the Horizon)

Moana Leads the Way Home (and to the Horizon)

One of the more attractive elements of grace-based living is that it removes (in doctrine, anyway, if not always in practice) the pressure to discern every decision correctly. Both the roughing-it-through-the-grind and seeking-the-horizon are both valid and acceptable approaches to life. This stance contrasts with FOMO-driven media in both the general and Christian spheres. Such movies, books, sermons, etc emphasize the importance of striving over settling. Persistence involves driving forward toward goals, not simply making it through.

Mbird contributors (and, I think, readers) have diverse views on theology and practice, but we are mostly united in our skepticism of the ever-striving-forward…

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A Love Letter from King George

A Love Letter from King George

I recently caved and jumped on the Hamilton bandwagon. The two-and-a-half-hour hip-hop soundtrack took me about four days to listen to all the way through, and, I must admit, I now understand and appreciate what the hype is about. Hamilton, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and winner of eleven Tony Awards, tells the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton: how he came to America, his role in founding our country, and all the (romantic) drama in between.

One of my favorite songs at the moment—which is probably very telling about my taste in music—is “You’ll Be Back.” King George (Jonathan Groff) sings…

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Searching Low and High for the Who Behind The Who

Searching Low and High for the Who Behind The Who

A flurry of thinkpieces circulating at the moment about the dark side of identity politics—for reasons that should be fairly self-evident. Just before starting in on a contribution of my own, a guardian angel reminded me that I’d already spilled plenty of ink on that subject in The Who chapter of A Mess of Help, an earlier version of which appeared in the Identity Issue of The Mockingbird. Somehow that essay never made it onto the site. Well, no longer:

It was the mid-90s, and one of my older brother’s friends had decided to make our house a stop on…

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Lazaretto, or Where Is That Moral Progress I Was Promised? – Scott Johnson

Here comes the next video from Oklahoma, and the first of the breakout sessions. This one arrives courtesy of Dr. Scott Johnson, our resident expert in classical Greek and all things White Stripes-related:

Lazaretto, or Where is that Moral Progress I was Promised? – Scott Johnson from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

A Grace Too Powerful to Name

A Grace Too Powerful to Name

Mike Birbiglia has touted his ability to make any awkward situation more awkward, but I think I win. Not long ago, I reply-all’d to a church discussion an a-propos-of-nothing question about how to take hold of grace. I immediately regretted it, because it was an unanswerable question. I know that divine forgiveness is, in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s words, “a grace too powerful to name.” It can’t be summed up in an email.

Sometimes, though, it can be expressed in a song. The latter quote comes from “It’s Quiet Uptown,” a pivotal song in the musical Hamilton wherein the titular character mourns the death of his…

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Come Healing – Leonard Cohen (RIP)

Click here to read what feels like a divinely appointed lyric. The opening alone:

O gather up the brokenness
And bring it to me now
The fragrance of those promises
You never dared to vow

The splinters that you carry
The cross you left behind
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind

And let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb