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Freedom's Just Another Word

Freedom’s Just Another Word

The first time I heard an Aussie ask “How are you going?” I thought he wanted me to give him directions, which is hilarious because I know how to get to, like, three places here. Then I realized I was being presented with an alternative to our American phrase “How are you doing?” And I decided that I really liked it.

There’s a chance I’m taking idioms too personally here, but my journey through faith has been like this: religion to grace. Javert to Valjean. Imperative to indicative. My early years of preoccupation with behavior—to my idea of God as the…

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Wendell Berry's World-Ending Fire of Original Sin

Wendell Berry’s World-Ending Fire of Original Sin

A few days ago, I happened across the round-table discussion with Wendell Berry, Paul Kingsnorth (author of the forthcoming Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist), and economist Kate Raworth on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week hosted by Andrew Marr. The conversation, from this past May, centered around problems associated with the environmental movement, particularly issues of idealism without responsibility.

Wendell Berry, an avid environmentalist himself, is not opposed to stirring the pot. He just released a book of essays optimistically titled The World-Ending Fire and is the subject of a documentary produced by Nick Offerman — yep, that Nick Offerman — called Look and…

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Dear Evan Hansen, I'm Missing Richard Simmons from S-Town, or: A Note from the Outcast

Dear Evan Hansen, I’m Missing Richard Simmons from S-Town, or: A Note from the Outcast

I saw the emotional avalanche that is Dear Evan Hansen two weeks ago, on a yearly childless pilgrimage my husband and I make to the city where we fell in love, and conveniently, where Mockingbird holds an annual conference. Maybe it’s the range and sincerity displayed by headliner Ben Platt, with whose image I am considering adorning my bedroom walls (I think my husband will be fine with it; considering our age difference, it would be more of a proud Teen Mom situation). Maybe it’s the poignant and earworm-ridden soundtrack. Maybe it’s the tendency of the cast to depart from the…

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A Quick Update from Mbird HQ

This Just In: Starting today, March 31, The Mockingcast and the Same Old Song podcast will be taking a break as we focus our energies on the upcoming conference in NYC. We’ll resume once things settle down and will update you when we know more. The Mockingpulpit and PZ’s Podcast will continue as is. Thank you for your patience! In the meantime, Scott Jones is starting a new project/podcast, Give and Take (Tagline: “Cultivating the Art of Conversation”). For more info, or to subscribe, click here. And don’t forget about his ongoing New Persuasive Words program, co-hosted with Bill Borror.

[We are experiencing some problems with our iTunes feed at the moment and are working to fix.]

Oh and speaking of NYC, we are officially running out of seats for the meals. So… if you’re planning on eating but haven’t pre-registered yet, we need to know ASAP. Sign up on the conference site or email us at post-haste. Be sure to check out the full list of breakout sessions, too!

P.S. Something is coming… And it’s not alone. All will be revealed April 27th.

Fear Models and Clean Antennae: Pete Holmes on Fresh Air

Fear Models and Clean Antennae: Pete Holmes on Fresh Air

Another TV season, another bid for our wallets. HBO is making its case this season with comic Pete Holmes and Judd Apatow’s latest, Crashing. Holmes is famous for his standup comedy and “You Made It Weird” podcast (see our writeup), and his biography of “almost-youth-minister-turned-comic” is one for the annals of Christendom. Fewer ex(?) Evangelicals have articulated so well what a law-saturated theology can do to a person. For those of us who can’t afford HBO-to-go yet, here’s a few lines from Pete Holmes interview on NPR’s Fresh Air that make it hard to say no. Hold on to your wallets!

On the relationship between…

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PZ's Podcast: Eternal Return

PZ’s Podcast: Eternal Return


I keep trying to make sense of the divisions we are almost all feeling currently. How can one get “under” them, i.e., in hopes of lessening them a little? Does anyone who is reading this enjoy feeling estranged from others, especially old friends, for example, because of political opinions? Very few, I’ll bet. But it’s happening.

Then the insight came: Remember what it was like 47 years ago. Remember what it was like in the Spring of ’70. Everybody, and I mean, everybody, was up in arms! If you were a college student then, your campus was probably shut down….

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Special Food & Drink Mockingcast (Plus, What Would You Eat If You Weren’t Afraid?)

Excited to announce a brand new special episode of The Mockingcast, dedicated entirely to the Food and Drink issue of The Mockingbird! Scott really went to town on this one, compiling multiple interviews with contributors and excerpts from the mag itself (and a host of other goodies as well). Click here to listen. Fair warning: not to be consumed on an empty stomach!

Also, as another preview of the print edition, just before Thanksgiving Break we asked our readership what they would eat if they weren’t afraid—afraid of indigestion, afraid of death, afraid of angry spouses, social scrutiny, moral reproach? More as a thought experiment, we wondered what we’d really reach for if all the rules were wiped clean from the counter: What would you allow yourself to indulge in were it not for the consequences—bodily and ethical and otherwise?

Maybe you read about it and thought, “I have no deep-seated issues with food. I eat what I want and, believe it or not, what I want is healthy, natural food.” Fair enough (what’s your secret?!). For everyone else, loosen the belt a notch and grab a stack of napkins, cause here’s what you came up with:

  • Cheetos in a can
  • Krystals
  • KFC Double Down Sandwich
  • Hot McDonald’s fries!
  • Wendy’s chocolate Frosty
  • My mother’s oatmeal cookies
  • Cinnamon Life cereal with whole milk
  • BBQ sauce with anything
  • Onion rings
  • Cookies & Cream ice cream
  • A sack of Five Guys fries
  • Talenti’s pumpkin pie gelato
  • A try of cannolis with extra marscapone
  • New Jersey bagels with cream cheese and lox
  • Triple chocolate fudge cake
  • Cracklin’ Oat Bran
  • Pork soup dumplings
  • Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese Family box (all for me)
  • Those enormous Great Harvest salted butterscotch cookies
  • Deep-fried Oreos
  • A vat of queso with warm tortillas
  • Bagel dogs with sauerkraut
  • Fluffernutter milkshakes
  • All you can eat Brazilian steakhouse
  • Dominos Ultimate Pepperoni Feast
  • Shake Shack anything
  • Several tubes of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls
  • Fruit by the Foot, Swedish Fish and Gushers
  • French fries everyday, at every meal
  • Hot Krispy Kremes
  • A dozen Krispy Kremes in five minutes
  • A half-dozen Krispy Kremes, squeezed together into a ball, eaten like an apple
  • My wife’s mojo-marinated roast pork
  • Bacon bacon and more bacon
  • Chocolate chip cookies from Levain Bakery
  • Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts toasted with butter
  • Momma’s Pancake Breakfast at Cracker Barrel
  • McDonald’s Big Mac Extra Value Meal with an apple pie

Click here to order the Food & Drink Issue today! And those who’ve already wolfed their copies down, feel free to share your favorite bits in the comments. Or what (else) you’d eat if you weren’t afraid.

Fake Ads and Real Good News

Fake Ads and Real Good News

This one was written by Clayton Hornback. 

Today I was driving around Birmingham, listening to the radio. It was about 3:00 o’clock. And rather than tune into The Paul Finebaum Show, which can be both full of law and humorous grace, I instead turned the dial to the local NPR station (90.3 WBHM). I’m so glad I did, because NPR’s afternoon program Here and Now was in the middle of a piece titled, “LISTEN: These 5 Fake Ads Will Sell You On Some Of Life’s Real Delights.” The basic gist of the piece was highlighting five completely made-up ads which were created…

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A Story of the Unexpected: "Just What I Wanted" from This American Life

A Story of the Unexpected: “Just What I Wanted” from This American Life

This American Life’s recent Christmas episode, about gifts, told stories of mostly bad news: two of the three segments were about characters realizing that the thing they most wanted was bankrupt of what they actually needed. They were about expectations and disappointments, about human longing and our tendency to put our faith in the wrong things.

The first segment, however–the prologue–was the precise inverse: the thing we didn’t realize we wanted was the thing we needed most.

It’s a good story. It starts off with a Marine named Luke who, while serving in Ramadi, Iraq in 2005, spent his off-time watching Gilmore Girls.

Luke Huisenga: Yeah, I mean,…

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Red-Eyed Gravy: "A Charleston Feast for Reconciliation"

Red-Eyed Gravy: “A Charleston Feast for Reconciliation”

Christmas is a time of nostalgia and hope, which, for me, at least, can turn a bit maudlin. I listen to podcasts at work, and sometimes, during certain seasons, my podcast tastes can lead me down ill-advised paths. At work, poignant is the most dangerous podcast category. The excuse of allergies is a good cover for tears when you work in a blue collar environment like I do.

I spent the best part of a half hour with tears dripping out of my safety glasses while listening to an episode of the podcast, Gravy. A collection of half-hour audio documentaries and…

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Living With the Enemy Within (at the Holidays)

A quick quotation from Carl Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections, which you’ll hear me read in the special Holiday Survival Guide episode of The Mockingcast, which just dropped on iTunes:

1“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ — all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved — what then? As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.”

Sinners and Saints in a Pandemic

Sinners and Saints in a Pandemic

One of the oldest words in the history of hospital care is the French term “triage”—meaning, the sorting of patients. The practice of triage keeps a hospital organized (Intensive Care Unit here, Emergency Room there), but it also provides a way of prioritizing the care of patients. This is especially important on battlefields and in disaster zones, where the need for treatment can heavily outweigh the resources available. When the number of sick people is far greater than the number of doctors, triage provides a sieve for who sees the doctors first.

As you might guess, then, triage naturally moves medicine…

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