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Literature

So I Thought I Could Dance

So I Thought I Could Dance

I remember picking up the book I Don’t Know How She Does It a couple of months into my first pregnancy. The title sounded like a present-tense version of my desired epitaph, and the plot made it feel a timely read, featuring as it did a busy working mom struggling to be everything to everyone, often to “hilarious” consequence (witness Sarah Jessica Parker, in the film adaptation, endure lice in the conference room! HAHAHA!). I had set myself on the path to working motherhood over a decade before, when I chose in college to pursue a career that would combine prestige, profit,…

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The Essence of Christianity (Plus)

A couple of brand-new bonus recordings to which to draw your attention on this Tuesday afternoon:

  • Scott Jones and Bill Borrer interviewing Paul Zahl about “The Essence of Christianity” for their stellar New Persuasive Words podcast (which you can subscribe to here). You might think of it as a preview of the in-person conversation they’re going to have in April:

Sometimes these things don’t turn out as well as you’d hope. But sometimes they do, which seems to have been the case here. Or so we’ve been told, thank God.

Mockingbird at the Movies: Intro (and Final Edition)

Mockingbird at the Movies: Intro (and Final Edition)

As this year’s Oscar buzz revs up, be sure to take a look at our latest publication, Mockingbird at the Movies, an anthology of film essays collected from many of Mockingbird’s contributing writers. Last week, we quietly released the fully-polished final edition, which consists of a few less typos but all of the same thought-provoking, Gospel-centered content. See the full Table of Contents here, order a copy here, and read the intro, by editor CJ Green, below. Oh and if you feel inspired to post a review on Amazon, by all means.

It was an ill-defined notion but there nevertheless—my vague childhood idea that ‘Hollywood’ had it…

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In Spite of Everything, He Loves Me

In Spite of Everything, He Loves Me

This passage is written by Simone Weil. The French theologian and writer, Jean Sulivan writes in his Spiritual Journal Morning Light that, when he thinks about the tenderness of God, and the enigma of Christ, nothing for him describes better the longing (and pain) better than this passage from Simone Weil. 

He brought me out and made me climb into a garret (an attic). Through the open window one could see the whole city spread out, some wooden scaffoldings, and the river on which boats were being unloaded. He bade me be seated.

We were alone. He spoke. From time to time someone would enter,…

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Damascus – Mark Jarman

Headlong in your career, breathing out threatenings
And slaughter against enemies, dictating trouble
68d459a310fb0ecc1aa9b2b7f8021111For anyone advanced ahead of you, gambling
That you can stay ahead of your rep, checking off
The list of those to chop off at the top, and the place
Your name will be inked in, all the while businesslike,
Congenial with associates and flattering
To authorities and enforcers, bloody and obscene
Only in private mutterings and unspoken dreams,
On your way to yet another hanging, stoning, gossip-
Mongering swap meet of assassins, you’re surprised
As much as anyone to be chosen–though it requires
A certain blindness on your part and such a change
You wouldn’t know yourself–a vessel of grace.

The Manner of Men – Rudyard Kipling

The Manner of Men – Rudyard Kipling

Wow. This was new to me. A short story by the renowned Jungle Book author, which recounts Paul’s shipwreck in Acts 27-28 from the point of view of the sailors who accompanied him. Takes a little while to get going, but once it does… Brilliant. The ending especially. Click here for more background. There are a lot worse ways to spend your afternoon/evening.

Bridgeman; (c) David Brangwyn; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

‘If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts.’— I Cor. XV. 32

Her cinnabar-tinted topsail, nicking the hot blue horizon, showed she was a Spanish wheat-boat…

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No Wholeness Outside Our Reciprocal Humanity

No Wholeness Outside Our Reciprocal Humanity

The American justice and penal systems may be hot topics today, but it isn’t the only reason that Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy became a New York Times bestseller in 2014. As the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative he’s certainly earned his room to speak about oppressive justice and the death penalty and mass incarceration. But he is also compelling as a storyteller—he is not simply interested in the facts and figures justifying prison reform. He is also intertwined in individual lives of prisoners; their stories play a huge role in his own coming-of-age.

If you’re unfamiliar with the book, Just…

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Election Year Wisdom from W.H. Auden

If we were never alone or always too busy,
Perhaps we might even believe what we know is not true:
But no one is taken in, at least not all of the time;
In our bath, or the subway, or in the middle of the night,
We know very well we are not unlucky but evil,
That the dream of a Perfect State or No State at all,
To which we fly for refuge, is a part of our punishment.
Let us therefore be contrite but without anxiety,
For Powers and Times are not gods but mortal gifts from God;
Let us acknowledge our defeats but without despair,
For all societies and epochs are transient details,
Transmitting an everlasting opportunity
That the Kingdom of Heaven may come, not in our present
And not in our future, but in the Fullness of Time.
Let us pray.

For The Time Being; A Christmas Oratorio

Mele no Duke Kahanamoku, or the Distance Between Who You Are and Who People Think You Are

Mele no Duke Kahanamoku, or the Distance Between Who You Are and Who People Think You Are

In 1962, a few years before Duke Kahanamoku’s death, the surprise-biography show This Is Your Life celebrated him by bringing onstage his family, friends, and colleagues. Ralph Edwards told the studio audience about Duke’s early life in Waikiki through his success in swimming—three Olympics, two gold medals for the 100 m freestyle, and three successive world records in the latter event—and politics—13 two-year terms as sheriff of Honolulu. The documentary also touched on his contributions to the popularization of surfing, which would later earn him the honorific “father of international surfing.” Through all of this adulation, Duke seems shocked, pleased,…

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The Top Theology Books of 2015

The Top Theology Books of 2015

In the several years that I’ve been compiling a yearly review of theology books I have to say that this past year has been the best of them all. Some publishing years come and go without much notice, but this one will likely be remembered for quite a while.

Sin Boldly!: Justifying Faith for Fragile and Broken Souls, by Ted Peters

This book is so good we keep. writing. about. it. Go back and look – DZ has been subliminally sneaking Peters quotes or allusions into almost everything he’s written for the past 6 months. For Peters, justification is not some abstract,…

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Five Golden…Themes! What We Loved Writing about in 2015

Five Golden…Themes! What We Loved Writing about in 2015

As we blanket our house with nic-nacs and expensive toys, it’s the perfect time to look back at the things that matter—or the things that mattered—or the things that at least we thought mattered at the time—to us this year. Here are Five Golden Themes for 2015—repeated stories and obsessions that didn’t just creep into the collective cultural psyche, but seemed to define it, for better or worse.

Performancism and Suicide. I had to check and make sure this hadn’t been on one of our previous year-end roundups. I thought surely, with all the times we’ve written about “the epidemic,” this…

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Reasons to Be Happy – Tony Hoagland

From his newest collection, Application for Release from the Dream.

Some birds are people-watchers.
The worms can hear us stomping over them.
The loaves and fishes multiplied the Christians.

51-Ykjg7onL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_We were wrong about so many things.
We thought the world was mute,
or dead, or just disinterested.
Yet the sunrise liked being looked at
by sleepy cabdrivers. The billboard
was unashamed of its Southern Comfort ad.

The night wind rustled
through the tops of cedar trees
standing all around a certain house

where worried people
lay in bed and listened.
What were the names

of those old Greek gods?
And where did they go?
Atlas—he’s the one

who spent a long time
holding up
what did not belong to him.