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Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and the Motherhood Cure

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and the Motherhood Cure

I’ve recently started reading the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books to my 6-year-old. I picked them up because I remembered reading them when I was in elementary school, and because we could all use a little bit of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle in our lives. If you’re not familiar with the books, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle was created in the 1940s by Betty MacDonald. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle lives in an upside-down house, she might have pirate treasure buried in her back yard, and she loves children. She soon acquires a reputation in the neighborhood for being able to “cure” common childhood “ailments”: not flu…

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The "Centre Point" of Paradox

The “Centre Point” of Paradox

I suffer from what psychologytoday.com calls ‘polarized thinking’ (self-diagnosed). This is a way of seeing the world in ‘either/or’ terms. When I judge something — which happens, let’s face it, all the time — it’s either this or that, good or bad, right or wrong. It’s not some of this and some of that — and certainly not all of both. Though it often means being harsh to myself and others, thinking in a polarized way helps me simplify the more complex aspects of the world, while staying comfortably seated in my judge’s chambers.

For example: if I hit a green…

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Gregory Boyle’s Touchstone Image of God

Another great excerpt from Gregory Boyle’s Tattoos on the Heart, about the Jesuit priest’s twenty years as director of Homeboy Industries in LA. Seriously, if we wouldn’t get in trouble for copying the entire book on the site, we’d do it.

God can get tiny, if we’re not careful. I’m certain we all have an image of God that becomes the touchstone, the controlling principle, to which we return when we stray.

My touchstone image of God comes by way of my friend and spiritual director, Bill Cain, S.J. Years ago, he took a break from his own ministry to care for his father as he died of cancer. His father had become a frail man, dependent on Bill to do everything for him. Though he was physically not what he had been, and the disease was wasting him away, his mind remained alert and lively. In the role reversal common to adult children who care for their dying parents, Bill would put his father to bed and then read him to sleep, exactly as his father had done for him in childhood. Bill would read from some novel, and his father would lie there, staring at his son, smiling. Bill was exhausted from the day’s care and work and would plead with his dad, “Look, here’s the idea. I read to you. You fall asleep.” Bill’s father would impishly apologize and dutifully close his eyes. But this wouldn’t last long. Soon enough, Bill’s father would pop one eye open and smile at his son. Bill would catch him and whine, “Now, come on.” The father would, again, oblige, until he couldn’t anymore, and the other eye would open to catch a glimpse of his son. This went on and on, and after his father’s death, Bill that this evening ritual was really a story of a father who just couldn’t take his eyes off his kid. How much more so God? Anthony De Mello writes, “Behold the One beholding you, and smiling.”…What’s true of Jesus is true for us, and so this voice breaks through the clouds and comes straight at us. “You are my Beloved, in whom I am wonderfully pleased.” There is not much “tiny” in that.

“Behold the One beholding you and smiling.” It is precisely because we have such an overactive disapproval gland ourselves that we tend to create God in our own image. It is truly hard for us to see the truth that disapproval does not seem to be part of God’s DNA. God is just too busy loving us to have any time left for disappointment.

Acceptance is the Difference Between Evaluation and Condemnation

Acceptance is the Difference Between Evaluation and Condemnation

This passage comes to us from John Jacob Raub’s 1992 book, Who Told You That You Were Naked: Freedom from Judgment, Guilt and Fear of Punishment. Raub is a Trappist Monk from the Abbey of Gethsemani, the abbey Thomas Merton called home. The book, so far, is a deep dive into the helpful waters of psychological Christianity, and his distinction between evaluation and condemnation has been particularly helpful:

Jesus said, “Do not judge” (Mt 7:1), but just what type of judging was he prohibiting? Certainly we are to make practical judgments. We judge to say “this” rather than “that,” “do this,”…

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Telling Stories to the Devil: From Healing the Mind Through the Power of Story

Telling Stories to the Devil: From Healing the Mind Through the Power of Story

This is an incredible excerpt, albeit completely unorthodox. It comes from a short section entitled, “Saying Goodbye to Satan,” in Lewis Mehl-Madrona’s book, Healing the Mind Through the Power of Story: The Promise of Narrative Psychiatry.

As you read, note the utter left-handedness in Mehl-Madrona’s approach: he allows the patient to tell her story and enters that story with her, totally devoid of judgment or correction. This example of narrative psychiatry in real-life shows, first of all, that the stories we tell ourselves can be damning; second, that denying those stories won’t restore us to sanity. Instead, acceptance (and more importantly:…

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Love of Children and Fear of the World

Love of Children and Fear of the World

Stephen Marche’s The Unmade Bed is the book I cannot stop recommending. He talks about the state of modern marriage with unflinching clarity. And in a bold literary move, his wife provides footnotes. It is like being at a dinner party with the funny, poignant couple who occasionally correct one another’s stories.

From a theological perspective, the book serves as the perfect, secular counterbalance to Robert Farrar Capon’s Bed and Board. In Capon’s era, it was women who made the bed, but in Marche’s modern take we learn that bed-making is an activity we all long to avoid. Seriously,…

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Jesus Christ the Pelican Mother

Here at Mbird HQ, sometimes you get an advance copy of a book from a publisher and you’re not exactly thrilled about opening it. This one, though, is an exception. It is a prayer book from the days of Shakespeare, written by layman (and playwright) Thomas Dekker. The book is divided into four parts, each part a “bird,” or form of prayer, flying from Noah’s Ark. The notion of the Ark as the human body/experience is a powerful one. This is Dekker’s introduction to his third bird, The Pelican. You can pre-order the book here.

The third bird that I call out of Noah’s ark is the Pelican. The nature of the Pelican is to peck her own bosom and with the drops of her blood to feed her young ones. Christ, the Son of God, is the Pelican whose blood was shed to feed us. The physician made a medicine of his own body to cure us. Look upon him well, and behold his wounds bleeding, his head bowed down (as if to kiss us), his very sides opened (as if to show how his heart loved us), his arms stretched out to their length (as if to embrace us). And judge by all these if Christ be not our truest Pelican.

He who was King of Heaven and Earth suffered his brow to wear a crown of thorns. He received wounds that are our health. He tasted the bitterness of death that is our salvation—what Pelican can do more for her young ones?

Our souls were spotted: Sin had pawned them, sin had lost them, sin had made them foul. All the medicine in the world could not purge our corruption, all the fountains in the world could not wash our spots, all the gold and silver on earth could not redeem our forfeitures, all the kings under heaven could not pay our ransoms. Nothing could free us from captivity but to make Christ a prisoner. Nothing could give us life but the heavenly Pelican’s death.

The Gospel According to Gandalf

The Gospel According to Gandalf

It’s no secret that J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is full of Christian imagery, but upon diving into The Fellowship of the Ring, I soon realized that I had vastly underestimated the extent of said imagery. I was so taken aback and borderline giddy by the powerful, convicting metaphors I was reading that I started underlining and writing margin notes, a practice formerly saved exclusively for academic reading but never ever done when reading for pleasure. One passage in particular stuck out to me.

Towards the beginning of Tolkien’s narrative, Gandalf explains the dark history of the Rings to…

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The Taste of Freedom

The Taste of Freedom

Reading through Noel Jesse Heikkinen’s book, Unchained, I was struck by this incredibly moving story about North Korean prison camp survivor, Shin Dong-hyuk, who escaped in 2005:

His father and mother were born in the same prison because his uncles had defected to South Korea. North Korea has a well-known policy of “three-generations of punishment” they inflict on those who oppose (or are even suspected of opposing) the government. Because Shin was born in the prison, he knew no other life. In his mind, the entire world was Camp 14, and there were only two types of people in the world: prisoners and guards. You…

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Pizza for Five Thousand

Pizza for Five Thousand

The following excerpt comes from our latest publication, The Man Who Met God in a Bar: The Gospel According to Marvin, by Robert Farrar Capon. As you’ll see, Father Capon has a knack for stirring up fresh ways to think about old, familiar stories.

Below, our narrator Marvin chronicles the spiritual revival led by Jerry, a short-order cook in 1990s Cleveland…who also claims to be God. This scene takes place in Chapter Eight, after Jerry has preached all day from a park bench.

By 3:30, when Jerry’s voice finally gave out, there had to be about five thousand people in the park. And since after that he just started talking to individuals…

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Book Review: Unchained by Noel Jesse Heikkinen

Book Review: Unchained by Noel Jesse Heikkinen

One of the Bible’s more notorious verses appears in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, where he writes: “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (5:1). So much of the New Testament — including Jesus’ ministry and most of the epistles — puts stock in a God who “sets the captives free” (Lk 4). But popular Christian discourse often reduces this integral concept of freedom to one of two things:

First, and perhaps most common among the well-seasoned faithful, ‘freedom’ is a cautionary freedom; that is, freedom “in perspective.” In this interpretation, ‘the but’ is of utmost importance,…

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The Mockingbird Devotional: Finding Grace and Being Found

The Mockingbird Devotional: Finding Grace and Being Found

After scrolling through my Twitter feed and seeing a prominent Christian leader post something that made me want to climb in my bed, pull my down alternative comforter over my head, and hide from the world; I tweet-confessed that remembering the gospel doesn’t undo the bad stuff. My proclamation got a couple of likes so there are at least two other people in the world who might agree that oh-remember-the-gospel-and-god-and-the-kingdom-everything-is-better-now just doesn’t work sometimes. Maybe we aren’t Christian-y enough, but using the gospel and the reality of God’s kingdom as a bandaid for all that is wrong in the world…

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