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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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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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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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Another Week Ends: Little Richard, Brand Luther, Star Wars, Marilynne Robinson’s Soul, and Identifying As…?

Another Week Ends: Little Richard, Brand Luther, Star Wars, Marilynne Robinson’s Soul, and Identifying As…?

Click here to listen to the accompanying episode of The Mockingcast.

1) On the heels of “identity” being Dictionary.com’s word of 2015, Spiked editor Brendan O’Neill discusses a theme that we have spoken about quite a bit ourselves this year, namely, the increasingly fluid cultural understanding of identity politics. O’Neill takes on the phrase “I identify as…” as a telling move from what we used to say about ourselves: “I am…” And with this new movement of self-identification comes the emphasis on subjectivity, the need for one’s identity to be transient, temporal—rather than objective, fixed, given.

O’Neill describes that this rampant interest…

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The Hero’s Conflict is Himself: Reviewing Adao’s Dance

The Hero’s Conflict is Himself: Reviewing Adao’s Dance

One of the many powers of fantasy fiction is that it helps the reader walk a balance between cognitive rest and restlessness: while graciously pausing the pressure of the ‘real world,’ fantasy fiction also tends to question conventional modes of thinking. This is certainly the case for our friend Russ Masterson’s book, Adao’s Dance, which chronicles the story of sixteen-year-old Adao who, after receiving a cryptic dream one night, undertakes the task of climbing a deadly, near-impassible mountain called The Dragon. What follows is a series of adventures that challenge his friendships, his worldview, and ultimately his life.

Adao includes plenty…

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WILD, Reese Witherspoon, 2014./ph: Anne Marie Fox/TM and Copyright ©Fox Searchlight. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection

A Voice of One Calling In The Wilderness: The Source of Power in Wild

In the film adaptation of Wild, Cheryl Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon) reads the final stanza of “Power,” a poem by Adrienne Rich, on her first night hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power

These words, referring to scientist Marie Curie, strike a chord with Strayed when she reads them, and they stayed with me as well. They became the lens through which I found myself making sense of this remarkable story.

Unfortunately, I can only discuss Wild from the perspective of the film, which is based closely on…

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Giving Up the Ghost Dance

Giving Up the Ghost Dance

This Advent I’m going Southern and weird for my daily devotional. I’ll be standing in this season of anticipation and light with a copy of Rodger Lyle Brown’s Ghost Dancing on the Cracker Circuit placed firmly in my hand.

In the early 1990’s Brown traveled the southeastern United States visiting Mayberry Days, hillbilly festivals, and street parades that celebrate Hernando De Soto. You know, “fun” stuff for southern white folks. He documents a people trying desperately to hang onto their past:

I’d been to a Rattlesnake Roundup, Swine Time, the North Carolina Tobacco Festival of Clarkton, Inc., and now the International Banana…

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