Talk about a double whammy! As promised, here’s the second part of our PZ-centric month at Mbird. This project has been in the works for quite some time–ever since the father figure in question hit the big 6-0 in fact–and we are absolutely thrilled it is finally available! Edited with care and precision by John Koch (aka JDK) and Todd Brewer (aka Todd Brewer), published by Wipf and Stock, and containing entries from a slew of Mbird contributors (and many other esteemed colleagues!), not to mention a preface from Tullian Tchividjian, this is something special indeed. After all, it’s not…
Alright, kemosabes, we decided to put together a gift guide this year. Apologies in advance for not straying terribly far from our books/movies/music wheelhouse:
For the cousin who’s been asking you where to start with all this grace stuff: One Way Love by Tullian Tchividjian
For the un-/underemployed recent college graduate or Teach For America burnout: Breaking Bad: The Complete Series
For the millennial son/daughter with a good sense of humor who keeps trying to shock you with his/her cynicism (but deep down just wants some love): We Learn Nothing by Tim Kreider or Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
For the Star…
We promised there would be more excerpts from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest! This one comes from a clandestine mountain-top conversation between a Quebecois nationalist/”Wheelchair Assassin” named Marathe and the US undercover agent Hugh/Helen Steeply. Some people consider their (lengthy) sparring matches to be the lowpoints of book, real momentum killers (pun intended), and I’m not sure I’d disagree. Still, taken out of context, DFW packed quite a bit of beauty and weight and humor into them. Their standing disagreement about the nature of freedom sticks out as particularly quotable–and lest you think DFW is being overly didactic, be sure…
We are so proud and excited to announce the release of a brand-new Mockingbird publication, Paul Zahl’s first book in seven years, PZ’s Panopticon: An Off-the-Wall Guide to World Religion! Entertaining, page-turning, and quirky almost beyond words, the Panopticon mines fresh territory without ever losing sight of the “heart of the matter”, providing a remarkably fresh survey of the world’s most captivating answers to the question of being human. It is unlike anything you’ve ever read (in the best possible way), a true cult classic in the making, both Dr. Zahl’s funniest and most personal piece of work to date. We’ll run some previews in the coming weeks but for now, enjoy the blurb on the back cover, which reads as follows:
Imagine you have ten minutes to live. You’re in a near-death situation, like the patient who’s being operated on and suddenly finds himself looking down on the action as the doctors try to save his life.
What do you need to know when your life’s end is near? What is there to know? What can this religion or that religion say to you when you really need some light? Maybe nothing, for sure. But maybe something, possibly.
PZ’s Panopticon weighs the world’s organized religions, such as Christianity and Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism; but it also weighs “dead” religions like those of the Aztecs, the ancient Egyptians, and the Greeks and Romans. There are also religions that are not called religions, like money and fame and sex; family and children; ideology and power.
PZ’s Panopticon is a wild ride. But it’s part of a trip we’re all going to take.
Now available on Amazon, but if you want more of the revenue to go to Mbird, PLACE YOUR ORDER HERE TODAY!
P.S. The Panopticon is only the first of two PZ-related projects that are hitting shelves this month. Stay tuned for an announcement next week about the long-awaited Comfortable Words: Essays in Honor of Paul F.M. Zahl.
One of our favorite quotes comes from Thornton Wilder, the great novelist and playwright, who voiced a vision for the rehabilitation of Christianity in the midst of the Great Depression:
The revival in religion will be a rhetorical problem — new persuasive words for defaced or degraded ones.
This principle, in my view, still holds true, and it’s motivated a good deal of what we try to do at Mockingbird. Recently, Francis Spufford and Christian Wiman have been heroes in revivifying the language of faith, in respective terms of emotional intelligibility and a “new poetics of faith.” To those authors we could add…
Last weekend we bought my wife a new (used) car. Her old(er) one was getting a bit small for our growing boys, and was quickly approaching 100,000 miles (at which point it would become more difficult to sell), so we bit the bullet and took the plunge.
Now we have a 12 year-old, 99k-mile car to get off our hands. It’s in excellent shape, by the way. New timing belt and everything, if you happen to be in the market.
On Sunday evening I posted a for-sale ad on Craigslist. Wanting to separate myself from the herd, I spent some time crafting…
What hard travail God does in death!
He strives in sleep, in our despair,
And all flesh shudders underneath
The nightmare of His sepulcher.
The earth shakes, grinding its deep stone;
All night the cold wind heaves and pries;
Creation strains sinew and bone
Against the dark door where He lies.
The stem bent, pent in seed, grow straight
And stands. Pain breaks in song. Surprising
The merely dead, graves fill with light
Like opened eyes. He rests in rising.
EPISODE 158: Changing Social Conditions in Indianapolis
Credible hope — hope that works — something to dispel the advancing clouds of agnosticism. Those clouds really do exist for people, especially as life begins to flummox them. Combined with alcohol, they’ll do you in.
Booth Tarkington found a gem of hope at the end of his novel The Magnificent Ambersons. Later that novel became a famous movie. Though they left out the game-changer scene! Did you know that at the heart of that story, there is a supernatural intervention? It’s not only credible but it succeeds.
Just like John Galsworthy’s astral moment in his…
Our pride drives us to establish our own righteousness. We strive all our life to see ourselves as keepers of rules we cannot keep, as loyal subjects of laws under which we can only be judged outlaws. Yet so deep is our need to derive our identity from our own self-respect – so profound our conviction that unless we watch our step, the watchbird will take away our name – that we will spend a lifetime trying to do the impossible rather than, for even one carefree minute, consent to having it done for us by someone else.
Really, no one…
Spoiler alert: There’s a knee-slapping section toward the end of the forthcoming PZ’s Panopticon: An Off-The-Wall Guide to World Religion in which the author ranks “religions that are not called religions.” He gives us a straight-faced (sort of) US News and World Report-styled guide to which of them (Sex, Power, Ideology, etc) will serve a person best, which has the longest shelf-life and the most return. I don’t want to give away too much, but I will tell you the one that comes in last and therefore qualifies as the most consistently disappointing object of worship: Things, or Possessions. Unlike,…
From his short meditation on love, titled Love Alone Is Credible:
“The first thing that must strike a non-Christian about the Christian’s faith is that it obviously presumes far too much. It is too good to be true: the mystery of being, revealed as absolute love, condescending to wash his creatures’ feet, and even their souls, taking upon himself all the confusion of guilt, all the God-directed hatred, all the accusations showered upon him with cudgels, all the disbelief that arrogantly covers up what he has revealed, all the mocking hostility that once and for all nailed down his inconceivable moment of self-abasement – in order to pardon his creature, before himself and the world…
“Once a person learns to read the signs of love and thus to believe it, love leads him into the open field wherein he himself can love. If the prodigal son had not believed that the father’s love was already there waiting for him, he would not have been able to make the journey home – even if his father’s love welcomes him in a way he never would have dreamed of. The decisive thing is that the sinner has heard of a love that could be, and really is, there for him; he is not the one who has to bring himself in line with God; God has always already seen in him, the loveless sinner, the loveless sinner, a beloved child and has looked upon him and conferred dignity upon him in the light of this love.
“No one can resolve this mystery into dry concepts and explain how it is that God no longer sees my guilt in me, but only in his beloved Son, who bears it for me; or how God sees this guilt transformed through the suffering of love and loves me because I am the one for whom his Son has suffered in love. But the way God, the lover, sees us is in fact the way we are in reality – for God, this is the absolute and irrevocable truth.”