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Flying by the Authority of Another

Flying by the Authority of Another

Chris Hoke’s memoir, Wanted, describes what it’s like to be a minister “through jail, among outlaws, and across borders.” This comes at the end of a chapter called “Birds of the Air,” which tells the story of Arnulfo and Magdaleno, two illegal migrants who are working in the camps where Hoke has been ministering. Hoke tells us that many migrant families move south as the weather cools, staying together, but Arnulfo and Magdaleno stay put in the Skagit Valley of Washington state.

Hoke learns they have no family. As everyone else in the migrant camps leaves for the season, he becomes…

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The Narcissist In Your Life

The Narcissist In Your Life

In her booklength essay on narcissism, Kristin Dombek enumerates the varieties of Narcissisms that plague the world order these days. There’s the Narcissistic Leader, whose ego runs the office you work for, the Collective Narcissist whose group or tribe is the best in the world, the Sexual Narcissist whose libidinal prowess must always be tested by new conquests. There’s also the Corporate Narcissist, the White Coat Narcissist, the Spiritual Narcissist and, of course, the Conversational Narcissist. The list is several pages long. (I wonder if you, like me, will be able to effortlessly match a face you know with each…

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Calling a Thing What it is: Ruminations with Lemony Snicket, Pt 2

Here’s yet another quote from the celebrated children’s author, Lemony Snicket, posted for your amusement (and in anticipation for Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events, the filming of which wrapped last month!). 

Snicket may be one of the only children’s authors who dares to raise an eyebrow at the rosy outlook of the optimist. He wants his young readers to know that emotions, even sad ones, are allowed to be felt and that “a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.” From The Miserable Mill:

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“Optimist” is a word which here refers to a person who thinks hopeful and pleasant thoughts about nearly everything. For instance, if an optimist had his left arm chewed off by an alligator, he might say, in a pleasant and hopeful voice, “Well, this isn’t too bad. I don’t have my left arm anymore, but at least no body will ever ask me whether I am right-handed or left-handed,” but most of us would say something along the lines of “Aaaaah! My arm! My arm!”….

If you have ever had a miserable experience, then you have probably had it said to you that you would feel better in the morning. This, of course, is utter nonsense, because a miserable experience remains a miserable experience even on the loveliest of mornings. For instance, if it were your birthday, and a wart-removal cream was the only present you received, someone might tell you to get a good night’s sleep and wait until morning, but in the morning the tube of wart-removal cream would still be sitting there next to your uneaten birthday cake, and you would feel as miserable as ever. My chauffeur once told me that I would feel better in the morning, but when I woke up the two of us were still on a tiny island surrounded by man-eating crocodiles, and, as I’m sure you can understand, I didn’t feel any better about it.

Reading Gilead and the Tyranny of Should

Reading Gilead and the Tyranny of Should

This one comes to us from our friend Connor Gwin.

I have started reading Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead five times. I know, I know; I really should read it. Everyone says it is so profound and wonderful and moving. It won the Pulitzer for God’s sake.

And I haven’t finished it yet.

I bought the audiobook so that I could easily listen in my car but I haven’t made it past the first few chapters. Perhaps it is the narrator’s voice.

I know I should read it because my well-read friends have read it. I know I should read it because I want to be…

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The Law of “Needless Words”

The Law of “Needless Words”

Here’s another great one from Larry Parsley. 

For years I have referred to this well-worn paperback not by its title (“The Elements of Style”) but by the authors’ last names — “Strunk and White.” E.B. White (of New Yorker and children’s lit fame) was a college student at Cornell under English professor William Strunk Jr. White studied his professor’s self published volume, referred to by Strunk as “the little book.” It was, in White’s words, “a forty-three-page summation of the case for cleanliness, accuracy, and brevity in the use of English.” In 1957, White (who had published “Charlotte’s Web” five years…

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A Review of A Woman’s Place [From a Man’s Perspective]

A Review of A Woman’s Place [From a Man’s Perspective]

Oftentimes evangelicalism, from the average parishioner’s perspective, is not so much a steady worldview as a collection of silently predetermined ideas. One of the more pernicious assumptions that many (though certainly not all) evangelicals share is that women are…limited? It’s really tough to nail down, partly because it is not universal. My first thought is Mark Gungor’s obnoxious video series Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, in which he ascribes disproportionate men in leadership positions to women’s “spaghetti brains” and uses a high-pitched whine to portray the female side of a conversation. Or the offhand references to Love and Respect,…

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When Life’s Gappers Get Your Goats

When Life’s Gappers Get Your Goats

A good starting place for reading the stories of George Saunders might not be Tenth of December, but The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, a fable that is as appropriate for kids as it is for adults. The story centers around the seaside town of Frip, which consists of three families: The Ronsens, a husband and wife who look exactly alike, and have two daughters who stand very still; Bea Romo, a big, angry woman with two big, angry sons, all of whom are big, angry singers; and our heroine, Capable, and her father, who live in the red house closest…

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Softening the Sting: Some Words From Falling Into Grace

Softening the Sting: Some Words From Falling Into Grace

In a particularly memorable chapter from his book, Falling Into Grace, John Newton (who’ll be speaking at our Fall Conference in Oklahoma City 10/28-29) opens with the story of “The Scorpion and the Frog.” You may already be familiar with the story, but I wasn’t, so I’ll run through it quickly:

The scorpion is looking for a way to cross the river, but, for obvious anatomical reasons, he’s having a hard time finding anyone willing to give him a ride. He asks the frog, who says, “No way, you’ll sting me!” The scorpion eventually cajoles the frog into giving him a lift across the…

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The Blessing of The Cursed Child

The Blessing of The Cursed Child

A quick disclaimer before reading: I will be giving a positive review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I will, in the words that follow, go so far as to recommend Harry Potter fans read it. So there. If you’ve already decided that the seven books will be the only books, that you will never touch the apocryphal supplements that come via screen or stage, I will not call you a pureblooder…that decision, to close eyes, ears and hands to some idea of magical purity–that’s entirely your decision. A rather pretentious one, I’ll grant, but your decision nonetheless. Everyone…

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The Seven Sacraments of Harry Potter

The Seven Sacraments of Harry Potter

In honor of the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, here is another essay from our new anthology of movie essays, Mockingbird at the Movies, available in print here and on Kindle here. 

Before anyone calls bluff on a Harry Potter essay found in a book about movies, let us first consider a fact about the Harry Potter movie franchise. As of July 2015, total movie sales for the eight Harry Potter films had almost surpassed total Harry Potter book sales, a ridiculous feat when you consider how much money that is (over $7 billion). And when you consider…

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Another Tribute to the Rev. Robert Capon

Another Tribute to the Rev. Robert Capon

Here is another fantastic reflection from Cody Gainous. 

I can’t remember where I first read the name Robert Farrar Capon — whether it was Mockingbird that led me to Capon or Capon that led me Mockingbird, I’m not sure. Classic chicken/egg scenario. But I can remember where I was when I heard that he had passed away. We are approaching the third anniversary of his death this September. That day, I was sitting on the couch in my tiny apartment, incidentally reading Between Noon and Three. When I put down the book and picked up my computer, the news came: Robert…

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A Button for the Unlovable: Corduroy as a Picture of the Gospel

A Button for the Unlovable: Corduroy as a Picture of the Gospel

This post comes to us from Blythe Hunt.

I would like to say that my reason for having hundreds of children’s books is that I have two small children; however, I owned most of these books pre-children, pre-marriage. I’ve always loved children’s books, and I am sure I’ll continue collecting even when my own children have moved on to Seamus Heaney and Mary Oliver (fingers crossed…).

In college, I wrote three senior theses (true confession!), and I continued my lit studies in grad school—I was hooked on finding deeper meaning in every piece of literature that came my way.

And then I had…

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