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Thank God for Mr. Bubz

I now present to you the current top-tier internet dog, a title which has only recently come into contention with the untimely passing of Gabe, the miniature eskimo pup who held our hearts in his tiny paws for many a moon. The newest meme champion is Mr. Bubz; look on his Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

A tiny, ugly, self-important little snot, Mr. Bubz thinks he is significantly more threatening than he actually is, and he constantly grandstands for attention. Alas, even when he tries to be good, he has to let out a little growl to make sure his owners know that he is the boss. He can’t help himself.

The greatest part about Mr. Bubz is how much his family loves him and how his owners refuse to take him seriously. Regardless of Mr. Bubz’ outer demeanor, his parents talk to him in a sweet, high-pitched voice, and they continue to dote upon him even as he lets out some small, pitiful, self-righteous growls. In video after video on his official Instagram page, Mr. Bubz’ family cherishes him in spite of himself.

We’re all just a little bit like Mr. Bubz. Self-aggrandizing, pitiful, and much too self-important for our own good, yet entirely reliant upon the unconditional love of our Father, who dotes upon us even as we pretend like we’re the ones in control. Thank God for Mr. Bubz!

10 Reasons Not to Support Mockingbird on #GivingTuesday (Today)

  1. You’ve kept all your New Year’s Resolutions – since grade school.
  2. Your favorite verse in the Bible is “God helps those who help themselves.”
  3. Your Fortnite handle used to be “PelagiusRulz98” but you changed it to “PhariC4life.”
  4. The twelve steps you value most are the ones you just logged on your Fitbit.
  5. Who you are online and who you are in person are identical.
  6. Your children are even more well-behaved at home than they are in public.
  7. You’re so secure in your justification that it wouldn’t even occur to you to atone for ransacking that Best Buy on Friday.
  8. You’re suspicious of all socially conscious hashtags, especially those that seem like the lovechild of Oprah Winfrey and Gavin Belson.
  9. You haven’t heard that Mockingbird has to close a pretty significant gap before year’s end (what with all the scholarships and free stuff we give away) and could really use your help before we have to cut back.
  10. You resent reverse psychology, no matter how well-meaning or tongue-in-cheek.

Of course, if you absolutely MUST, you can click on the button below:



P.S. To get our (earnest) end of the year update and appeal, which goes out next week, be sure to sign up for our mailing list.

How a Comedian Helped Me Pray the Ghosts Away

How a Comedian Helped Me Pray the Ghosts Away

The first time I remember being terrified of ghosts, my mother had taken me on a well-meaning bonding trip to Natchez, Mississippi. There, on the plantation home tours, the guide would allude to all of the Victorian-era blonde girls who kept making ghoulish appearances on the grand stairwell. Even as an 8-year-old I remember thinking, […]

FAIL of the Week

80/20 Dirtbag

80/20 Dirtbag

Christians are impossible. Have you noticed? They’re needy, demanding, insecure, oblivious, judgmental, hypocritical, weird and generally exhausting. And that’s just me. But seriously, there was a time in my (more)self-righteous youth when I wondered what was wrong with people who went to church. Why were they like that? So uncool? So difficult to be around? […]

Lucid Absurdities: The Gospel and a Life of Meaning

Lucid Absurdities: The Gospel and a Life of Meaning

This one comes to us from the Rev. Aaron Boerst. Have you ever been on the receiving end of the kind of inquisitive gaze that makes a person look like a confused puppy? I have. Everybody has at least one friend who, without warning and without frame of reference, bursts into a conversation with some […]

The Déjà Vu Issue is Here!

Dear readers, Issue 12 is officially out to print and will be in your hands in a matter of days!

Maybe you’ve wondered to yourself, “What is Mockingbird all about? And what should I read to get some insight?” If you have, or know your nosy roommate has, this is the primer to get you (or anyone) started. Even if you’re a vintage reader, this issue will sit with you like an old friend. After all, this is what déjà vu is all about: old stories/friends cropping up in new ways you never expected. Here is a collection of refurbished, rewritten posts, talks, and interviews from the dark caverns of the Mockinglibrary, an issue packed with sturdy theology, plenty of personality and, always, light hearts. In a word, it is classic.

So, to tide you over until your copy gets there, here’s the Opener from Ethan and a glimpse at the Table of Contents. Grab them fast! ORDER UP TODAY!

The Missing Word

In broaching the phenomenon that is déjà vu, there is one memory that’s bubbled up from the depths for a lot of Americans recently. The memory is of a smiling, lanky man, who sort of talk-sings off-key, who enters his house and changes out his coat and shoes for a sweater and sneakers.

It’s not that we don’t recognize the man or the place. It’s Mister Rogers, of course, and we’re in his house, which is in his Neighborhood. The déjà vu moment has been brought to us via the new documentary about the man, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? And it’s not that we’ve forgotten having watched this program as children. It’s that when we re-watch these scenes in the documentary—scenes of such simplicity and warmth—we momentarily access a feeling that we can’t quite source. It is a feeling that seems to predate our first experience of the show, and even predates us entirely. We have known the feeling before but we don’t know where from.

The new Mister Rogers documentary was inspired by an Esquire feature written in 1998 by Tom Junod. Junod tells the story of meeting Fred for the first time, in Rogers’ small, dingy New York City apartment. Before he could get down to any of his own questions, Rogers had his own.

“What about you, Tom? Did you have any special friends growing up?”

“Yes, Mister Rogers.”

“Did your special friend have a name, Tom?”

“Yes, Mister Rogers. His name was Old Rabbit.”

“Old Rabbit. Oh, and I’ll bet the two of you were together since he was a very young rabbit. Would you like to tell me about Old Rabbit, Tom?”

To his own surprise, the award-winning journalist jumped into a long lost, favorite story about Old Rabbit. It wasn’t a new story, like the one he was working up for Esquire, but a very old one. He became a child again.

We named this The Déjà Vu Issue out of a similar conviction that the old stories are the ones to pay attention to. This is not to stake a claim on the importance of tradition so much as to say that, while the world is kept spinning by fresh headlines and hot takes, the deepest stories pretty much stay the same. The experience of déjà vu is really the new experience of an old truth, maybe one you forgot you ever knew.

Déjà vu is also the experience of life in repetition. Contrary to the way we prefer to imagine our lives—as linear progressions, moving upward and onward towards an ever-improving end—they instead take on a more circular trajectory. You don’t have to look far for examples: we find ourselves saying things we only ever heard our father say. A history of some great war we read mirrors almost exactly the newspaper’s description of the political climate this week. And that old macramé lampshade in the attic, the one you nearly got rid of, is now all the rage.

Still, if these were the only kinds of repetitions, then déjà vu would be a harbinger of despair, a reminder that nothing ever changes. But Christianity proclaims that these are not the only repetitions we experience in life. The Christian faith announces that something—someone—broke through these circular histories and offered something truly new. It proclaims that this something new is like a fountain that continues to spring up all the time—it is good news, hope for a change, and it continues to surface in unexpected ways. In our own lives, we may see it crop up out of nowhere, much like déjà vu: we’ve never seen it before, but then again, maybe we have.

Mockingbird is named after this phenomenon of repetition: a mockingbird repeats what it hears. We are a group of people who have, in some way or other, witnessed paranormal déjà vu. We have experienced it in our lives, we have seen it bubble up in places no one expected it to, and we have felt compelled to share that story with others. Whenever it shows up it may be a new story on its own, but it’s really just an extension of the very old story that gave us the good news to begin with.[1]

This issue makes use of old stories to go back to the Old Story. The essays collected herein were published earlier in Mockingbird’s tenure—as blogposts, in chapters of books, in talks at conferences—and have been polished and reworked here in hopes to tell it, all over again, for you. We share parenting lessons from the late child psychologist Dorothy Martyn and the final interview with Robert Farrar Capon. We talk law and gospel, cross and glory, Halloween candy and wedding dresses, girly boys and gorilla moms. We also have a handful of brand-new lists and three brand-new poems from Mary Karr. Some of it you may remember, but none of it will be the same—that’s the way déjà vu works.

Later in that Esquire piece, after Tom Junod has followed Mister Rogers around Penn Station, and joined him on his daily morning swim and seen his office in Pittsburgh, he gets a sense that there is something heroic about the man. Despite the zip cardigans and wide-eyed wonder, maybe Mister Rogers himself is an agent of some kind of power, a reminder of an Old Story he never fully got to hear. He calls this Old Story “grace.”

What is grace? I’m not certain; all I know is that my heart felt like a spike, and then, in that room, it opened and felt like an umbrella. I had never prayed like that before, ever. I had always been a great prayer, a powerful one, but only fitfully, only out of guilt, only when fear and desperation drove me to it… and now this was it, the missing word, the unuttered promise, the prayer I’d been waiting to say a very long time.

This missing word is what we hope you find here too.

[1] When we were initially planning this issue, we had thought of it as a Greatest Hits Issue. Besides the inherent judginess of such a theme, there was something else about it that didn’t seem to ring true. It was only after pulling these essays together that we realized why: it wasn’t just about which essays were our favorites, or garnered the most attention, it was also which stories have portrayed this Old Story so powerfully.

PRE-ORDER THE DEJA VU ISSUE HERE

Saturday Night Law: How Humor Convicts the Sinner – Sam Bush

Another breakout from our NYC Conference, from the one and only Sam Bush.

Saturday Night Law: How Humor Convicts the Sinner – Sam Bush from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Depraved Puppetry: Is There Any Good News in Dark Humor?

Depraved Puppetry: Is There Any Good News in Dark Humor?

A shining example from our Humor Issue, here’s an essay about rude puppets (and love, and death). You can order the magazine, or subscribe here. The most inappropriate show that has ever aired in the history of TV is Wonder Showzen. It’s amazing that the show survived MTV2 for two whole seasons, from 2005 to […]

Char and Steph Wander the Desert: A Flashback to Ancient Israel

Char and Steph Wander the Desert: A Flashback to Ancient Israel

The following play — a precious relic from ancient Israel — tells the untold story of motherhood in Exodus. It was published in Mockingbird’s latest book, Unmapped, a memoir duet about spirituality, family, and finding home in unexpected exile. This is Act I of IV: Char and Steph Wander the Desert A Play by Charlotte Getz and […]

For the Record: Summer Reading (From the Humor Issue)

For the Record: Summer Reading (From the Humor Issue)

Here’s to hoping there’s a beach in your future, or some other cosy spot to kick up your feet and soak in a good book. Below, you’ll find staff picks for this summer, taken from the recently released Humor Issue. On Our Bookshelf Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved) by Kate […]

Nine Rules From Chris Pratt, Generation Award Winner

File this under unexpected! Some inspired misdirection from the soon-to-be-appointed Youth Minister General of the United States, Burt Macklin Starlord himself, ht HE: