Radio
Bringing You the (Hippie) Gospel: “Oh, And That’s Right…He Dug It.”

Bringing You the (Hippie) Gospel: “Oh, And That’s Right…He Dug It.”

I was recently introduced to this rare bit of hipness by my friend and fellow seminarian, Susan Sevier.

An early attempt at cultural relevance, Pastor John Rydgren’s circa-1967 Silhouette radio shows are so much fun.  Rydgren was serving as the head of the TV, Radio and Film Department for the American Lutheran Church at the time he produced this series.  With his hip, rhythmic baritone jive, Rydgren was seeking to connect people with the Gospel message in fresh and down-to-earth ways, and he was doing so in the midst of the cultural upheavals that characterized the Summer of Love.

Talk about dramatic parables!  Can…

Read More »

Another Week Ends: Robots, Children, Busybodies, Grocery Store Flowcharts, Self-Hating Memories, Money-Burning Radio, Noah Dissent and Eight-Year-Old Guitar

Another Week Ends: Robots, Children, Busybodies, Grocery Store Flowcharts, Self-Hating Memories, Money-Burning Radio, Noah Dissent and Eight-Year-Old Guitar

 A quick update: we had some trouble with the Kindle version of The Mockingbird Devotional, but it’s now available here. It’s been tested with Kindle Fire and should work for older Kindles, too – Paperwhite compatibility is a little dubious (if there are problems, let us know so we can gripe to Amazon) – and it should work for iPad/iPhone and Android, too. 

1. The robots are coming: it’s a major upheaval we’ll see in the next few years, and one that’s flown relatively under the radar. So many avenues for exploring how we’ll relate to them, how they’ll change things – surrogate…

Read More »

Mike Birbiglia Wants Credit For Not Being Creepy

A hilarious and seriously relevant bit from comedian Mike Birbiglia about the fragility of what it means to be (or think of yourself) as a “decent person” and the often comic discrepancy between motivation and action. Taken from the recent goldmine of an episode of This American Life about “Good Guys”, ht CW:

Top 10 Things I Wanted to Blog about in 2013 but Was Too Lazy

Top 10 Things I Wanted to Blog about in 2013 but Was Too Lazy

I happily come across more pieces of culture than I know what to do with each year (or month, or week, or day) that speak to the Christian Message. This is a good problem to have–it means a blog like Mbird or a preacher like me will never run out of new material. Not using it can feel burdensome though, because I want to talk about it all—and sometimes I just procrastinate and never get around to it. I lumped some highlights together here in truncated form, keeping this list limited to the top ten (maybe 11) things I wanted to…

Read More »

Andre Dubus III on Tragedy and Happiness in America

Andre Dubus III on Tragedy and Happiness in America

From his interview yesterday on the Diane Rehm show, starting at about the 3:30 mark:

AD3: “Frankly, I have this belief (that) if you scratch the surface of any human being, across the country, across the world, at any moment of any day, even right this moment, everybody’s in some kind of trouble. It’s normal. It’s just part of human existence. I think that in America, we freak out about that. I think we’ve been sold a bill of goods, that we think we’re supposed to be happy all the time, especially if we’re successful.”

DR: “It’s in the constitution!”

AD3: “Yeah. ‘Life, liberty…

Read More »

New Research on Wealth Confirms What Jesus Said 2,000 Years Ago

New Research on Wealth Confirms What Jesus Said 2,000 Years Ago

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” – Luke 21:1-4

A recent story on NPR’s “All Things Considered” discusses the findings of Dacher Keltner, a researcher who studies social class and generosity. Keltner says that, “in just about every way you can study it, our lower-class individuals volunteer more, they give more of…

Read More »

Jesus (and TAL): Give Cash to Poor People

Jesus (and TAL): Give Cash to Poor People

“Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back” (Luke 6.30).

Of all Jesus’ commandments which his followers expressly disobey (my personal fave being Matthew 6:1 where he instructs his audience “not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them”–ironically enough, the lectionary reading for Ash Wednesday(!)), his instruction that we should “give to all who ask” is, perhaps, the one against which we have built the strongest fortification. In fact, if one were to reconstruct Jesus’ teaching on generosity based on the actions and teachings…

Read More »

How Karaoke Saved One Man from a Total Eclipse of the Heart

How Karaoke Saved One Man from a Total Eclipse of the Heart

You start to sing karaoke, and some kind of psychic heart-switch flips. If you’re lucky, and the beer doesn’t run out, it’s more than just a night of debauchery. It’s a spiritual quest. This spiritual quest, like so many spiritual quests, involves Bonnie Tyler.

After the sudden death of his wife, music critic and Rolling Stone journalist Rob Sheffield found unexpected comfort in karaoke. After moving from Charlottesville to New York, Sheffield found himself, night after night, in front of drunken strangers in dingy karaoke bars, mic in hand. But rather than jolting his audience out of their stupor and…

Read More »

Depressive Double Lives and the Usefulness of Pain

Depressive Double Lives and the Usefulness of Pain

“For a long time in my life, I felt like I’d been living two different lives,” Kevin Breel says as he begins his TED talk titled “Kevin Breel: Confessions of a Depressed Comic.” “There’s the life that everyone sees, and then, there’s the life that only I see.” In a well-delivered and candid talk, Breel opens up about his personal struggle with depression, the stigma attached to mental illness, and the reasons that people need to pay more attention to stories like his. Kevin says that, for the past few years, he has felt like he needed to hide his…

Read More »

Another Week Ends: This American Life’s 500th, Dustin Hoffman’s Female Perspective, Midlife Crises, Man-Children, Spitzer, and Chickens

Another Week Ends: This American Life’s 500th, Dustin Hoffman’s Female Perspective, Midlife Crises, Man-Children, Spitzer, and Chickens

1) Heather Havrilesky, at it again, this time over at Aeon. Writing from the perspective of a “successful” middle-ager, she describes how nothing can really be enough nowadays. The avenues for comparison are as numerous as the avenues for self-expression. She has this to say about her own experiences:

This is the shape my mid-life crisis is taking: I’m worried about what I have time to accomplish before I get too old to do anything. I’m fixated on what my life should look like by now. I’m angry at myself, because I should look better, I should be in better shape,…

Read More »

Another Week Ends: Snowden Psychology, Child Stars Grown Up, Sleep Perfomance, the Science of Risk-Management, and Ira Glass on Jesus Freaks

Another Week Ends: Snowden Psychology, Child Stars Grown Up, Sleep Perfomance, the Science of Risk-Management, and Ira Glass on Jesus Freaks

1) I guess the graduation speeches were of quite the well-suited ilk this year—fitted more for the heart and less the diploma. Jonathan Safran-Foer spoke at Middlebury’s graduation (the transcript was then printed for the Times), and talked a lot about today’s ease of communication and, thus, today’s relational retreat. Entitled “How Not To Be Lonely,” he catalogues some of the cultural and social restraints of technology, something we love…to…talk…about, but what’s more interesting is the focus he takes on power of intervention and attention.

He remembers sitting in a park, next to a woman who crying in public. Not knowing…

Read More »

It’s Funny ‘Cause It’s True: Tig Notaro Has Breast Cancer

It’s Funny ‘Cause It’s True: Tig Notaro Has Breast Cancer

I’ve been thinking a lot about what we can learn from stand-up comedians. I recently came across an amazing, tragic, deeply personal, and therefore hilarious stand-up set by Tig Notaro, which aired on This American Life last October (you really should listen to it here). I am approaching this from my perspective as a preacher and teacher, but I believe anyone trying to get a message across, especially in some public forum, could learn so much from stand-up. For example, read what I wrote on comedian Jim Gaffigan’s work here. I will focus on Notaro and her set that was featured on…

Read More »

Selling Out to Keep It Real: Indie Currency in the Decade(s) of Dysfunction

Selling Out to Keep It Real: Indie Currency in the Decade(s) of Dysfunction

n+1 has a new piece on the changing landscape of the “sellout,” and the assertions of authenticity that have been re-shaped in the relationship between art and commerce. Evan Kindley is writing a review on a few books in the topic, one of which is spotlighted, by Timothy Taylor, The Sounds of Capitalism: Advertising, Music, and the Conquest of Culture. Going back to the origin of music being used for advertising ends, the book archives the radio-days of musicians crafting Lucky Strike jingles, all the way to the  visual age of musicians having their own songs (and personas) implanted into…

Read More »

Another Week Ends: Forgiveness, Giving Trees, Therapists, and Aging with Grace

Another Week Ends: Forgiveness, Giving Trees, Therapists, and Aging with Grace

1. Forgiveness and apology seems to be a theme in the news as of late, or at least it was prior to Monday’s heartbreaking news from Boston. CNN’s belief blog highlighted the story of one man’s quest to forgive and restore the man who killed his brother when they were teens. I found the story enlightening as it ping-ponged between the two poles of forgiveness by grace (the victim’s brother) and forgiveness by works righteousness (the recently released killer). Quote: “I think for me, forgiveness will come in doing good works, trying to help others. But as far as forgiving…

Read More »

From One Juliet to Another: Sufferers Comforting Sufferers

From One Juliet to Another: Sufferers Comforting Sufferers

One of the criticisms of Gospel preaching is that it can, at times, be gloomy. “Do we have to hear about sin again?”, the complaint goes, “Do you have to be so down on humanity?”, “Can’t we talk about how great life is sometimes?”, “Can’t you give me some self-improvement tools?”

To these voices the Gospel preacher replies that life is often (perhaps mostly) hard, and that as much as we might crave a word of optimism, a little fuel for the part of us that longs to live in blissful ignorance (or denial), what we really need is not to…

Read More »