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The Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and Cultural Christianity in the Deep South

The Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and Cultural Christianity in the Deep South

This one comes to us from Oscar Price:

The Alabama State House of Representatives recently passed a bill which, if approved by the Senate and signed by the governor, would create a ballot measure to permit the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools.  That the sponsor of the bill did not actually know the Ten Commandments did little to deter his colleagues, who passed the bill by an overwhelming majority.

This is precisely the cultural climate of which Ross Douthat writes in Sunday’s New York Times – a culture in which Christianity, or some form of it, is so mainstream, and “traditional” values so…

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“That’s not a Catch!”: The Fallible Official and the Demand for Justice

“That’s not a Catch!”: The Fallible Official and the Demand for Justice

Major League Baseball finally “got with the ’90′s” this week, as it saw it’s first coach’s (manager’s) challenge, on an 0ut/safe call, in league history.    There has long been a debate within the sport over whether or not to slow down an already leisurely paced game by instituting a challenge system similar to what has been used for years in the NFL and other professional sports.  Despite the objections of some baseball purists, beginning this season, managers can challenge out/safe, fair/foul, catch/no catch calls.

In March 28th’s New York Times “Gray Matter” column, Brayden King points out that (oddly) the…

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Another Week Ends: Robots, Children, Busybodies, Grocery Store Flowcharts, Self-Hating Memories, Money-Burning Radio, Noah Dissent and Eight-Year-Old Guitar

Another Week Ends: Robots, Children, Busybodies, Grocery Store Flowcharts, Self-Hating Memories, Money-Burning Radio, Noah Dissent and Eight-Year-Old Guitar

 A quick update: we had some trouble with the Kindle version of The Mockingbird Devotional, but it’s now available here. It’s been tested with Kindle Fire and should work for older Kindles, too – Paperwhite compatibility is a little dubious (if there are problems, let us know so we can gripe to Amazon) – and it should work for iPad/iPhone and Android, too. 

1. The robots are coming: it’s a major upheaval we’ll see in the next few years, and one that’s flown relatively under the radar. So many avenues for exploring how we’ll relate to them, how they’ll change things – surrogate…

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SPRING CONFERENCE IN NYC: Final Schedule (T-Minus 1 Day)

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Tomorrow, Mockingbird is hosting its 7th Annual Conference in New York City! The event has come together beautifully, and the full schedule is below. While we always welcome last minute walk-ins, we ask that if you plan to dine with us, you pre-register on the conference website by Monday, 3/31.

Thursday April 3rd

2:00pm **  Pre-Conference Tour of the MoMA with Dan Siedell (email us at info@mbird.com to sign up)
5:00pm Registration Opens!
6:30pm “Can You See The Real Me?” – David Zahl
7:30pm Dinner (click here for the jaw-dropping menu)

Friday April 4th

8:15am   Coffee and Registration
9:00am   Morning Talks (30 minutes each)

10:15am Coffee Break and Book Signing with Sally
10:45am Morning Breakouts

12:00pm  ** Lunch
1:15pm Afternoon Talks (30 minutes each)

2:30pm Afternoon Breakouts

3:45pm Book Signing with Tim
5:30pm Cocktail Reception in the St. George’s Chapel celebrating the release of Comfortable Words: Essays in Honor of Paul F.M. Zahl and PZ’s Panopticon (including Book Signing with Paul Zahl)
7:00pm “Can You Say the Creed (And Still Call Your Soul Your Own)?” – Francis Spufford
7:40pm Q&A and Book Signing with Francis
8:00pm Dinner

Saturday April 5th

8:45am Coffee
9:30am “The Rationalist Delusion and the Perils of Certainty” – Jonathan Haidt
10:15am “On Not Being C.S. Lewis” – Francis Spufford
10:45am   ** Q&A with Francis
11:30am Conference Ends
12:30pm Book Table closes

CLICK HERE TO PRE-REGISTER TODAY!
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The New “Curse of the Bambino”

The New “Curse of the Bambino”

While getting an annual physical yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice all of the little inspirational quotes that had been meticulously typed, printed, cut out, and taped generously throughout the lab technician’s office.  Some were quite good – you can’t go wrong with MLK or JFK.  I have to admit that when I walked out of there, after having had blood drawn amidst a sea of “you can do it’s”, I was ready to charge hell with a squirt gun – or at least charge less squeamishly into the next “less fun” parts of the physical.

One of the quotes I…

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The Curated Life of Gwyneth Paltrow

The Curated Life of Gwyneth Paltrow

People really hate Gwyneth Paltrow. Last year, Star magazine named her one of “Hollywood’s Most Hated Stars.” But, that same week, she was also named the “World’s Most Beautiful Woman” by People Magazine.

That juxtaposition confused Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, presumably because he prizes beauty above all else. But, to the non-beautiful, the juxtaposition isn’t all that difficult to explain: People hate Gwyneth in part because she is beautiful.

Apparently there are other reasons to hate Gwyneth. Indeed, Vanity Fair commissioned an article exploring the reasons why people hate Gwyneth, reasons that Carter summarized well in this paragraph:

Half the female…

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A Cure for Our Self-Knowledge: Why We’ll Always Want Our Milk in the Same Sippy Cup

A Cure for Our Self-Knowledge: Why We’ll Always Want Our Milk in the Same Sippy Cup

The Paris Review’s (stunning) most recent issue features interviews with quite the coupling: Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and our favorite psychoanalyst, Adam Phillips. Both men talk about the art of writing, Phillips using a lot of the dialectic idioms you seem him using on paper all the time. Things like, “Symptoms are forms of self-knowledge.” Or, “Analysis should be the need not to know yourself.”

That being said, Phillips covers a lot of ground, including his own childhood, the books that formed him, the initial interests that brought him to the analysands’ chair. But mainly the conversation covers the breadth…

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Francis Spufford on Christianity’s Attention to Waste

Francis Spufford on Christianity’s Attention to Waste

In reading the gospels, it is difficult to separate the person Jesus from the images and stories that have been built up in our own memories and readings. It is hard to shell, to un-husk, the historical account from the gloss that our re-readings and re-tellings have rendered. It is impossible not to heroize with story the death and resurrection of a man who is also God’s son. To make His crucifixion the Crucifixion.

But to do so, as (our conference speaker!) Francis Spufford says here, is to miss the point of Christianity’s unique position on the everyday tragedies of life,…

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NYC Preview: What’s My Faction? (Teen) Angst in Dystopian Young Adult Fiction and Film

NYC Preview: What’s My Faction? (Teen) Angst in Dystopian Young Adult Fiction and Film

This comes from Rev. Deborah Leighton. To view the other conference breakout titles, or to register, click here.

“The more things change the more they stay the same.”  How many of us have reflected on our internal challenges as adults only to realize that they derive from the same root as the anxieties that possessed us at age 13?

The powers that be have given YA author Veronica Roth a bad rap for writing a dystopian trilogy that rides the coattails of The Hunger Games without measuring up to its complexity and wider market appeal.  Indeed, time and money are much better…

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Striving in Our Sleep, or Resting to Work Better?

Striving in Our Sleep, or Resting to Work Better?

Talk about grist for the mill! Did you see Eve Fairbanks’ riff in this past Sunday’s NY Times Magazine, “When Did Sleep Become So Nightmarish?” Amazing stuff. She takes her own struggle with insomnia, what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have declared a full-blown “public-health epidemic”, and uses it as an entry point to exploring the mentality surrounding sleep in this country–or at least the sleep industry, which has apparently become a $32billion/year endeavor. What she finds could not be more relevant to those interested in the relationship between productivity and identity (or ‘works righteousness’). It’s enough to,…

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Sister-Ax Evangelizes The Voice: “God Doesn’t Take Anything Away from Us”

To the surprise of so many who watched, last week an Italian nun dominated The Voice of Italy by signing Alicia Keys’ “No One” in English. The absolute highlight of her appearance (which you can see in the video below) is when J-Ax, a heavily tattooed Italian rapper and one of the voice coaches, reacts with pure delight to Sister Cristina, including shedding a few tears of joy. Another highlight is that she says she auditioned for the sake of evangelism—something she claims Pope Francis inspired her to do. We are all ears, Sister! I also love that some of her fellow sisters appeared on the show in support.

Here are some highlights. Make sure you click “CC” on the video to get the English captions.

Question: What brought you here to The Voice?
Sister Cristina: I have a gift and I am giving it to you. Shouldn’t things be this way?

J-Ax: If I had met you during the Mass, when I was a child, now I would be Pope! I would surely have attended all the functions.
Sister Cristina: Well you have met me now.

Question: What does the Vatican say about you auditioning at The Voice?
Sister Cristina: Listen, I don’t really know. I am waiting for Pope Francesco to call me on the phone. He always says we should go out and evangelize telling God doesn’t take anything away from us but will give us more. I am here for this. [The audience erupts in applause, and J-Ax begins to cry.]

P.S. Have you seen this? Aaaauuugghhh!!!!!

Another Week Ends: Overprotected Kids (and their Legos), Disney Therapy, Katims Gold, Malaysian Obsessions, Performance Reviews and Symmetrical Wes

Another Week Ends: Overprotected Kids (and their Legos), Disney Therapy, Katims Gold, Malaysian Obsessions, Performance Reviews and Symmetrical Wes

1. I had every intention of giving the subject of parenting a rest. Really, I did. But then The Atlantic put Hanna Rosin’s “The Overprotected Kid” on their cover this month and what can you do. Rosin touches on many of the same points that Heather Havrilesky raised in her polemic on ‘scripted play’, tracing the adverse effect that the decrease in unsupervised, unstructured time is having on our nation’s children, and the mounting tyranny of control (some would say paranoia) among parents. As Rosin notes, “failure to supervise has become, in fact, synonymous with failure to parent”. And yet,…

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Lifelogging Mediocrity and The Quantified Self

Lifelogging Mediocrity and The Quantified Self

They’re calling 2014 “The Year of the Wearable” in the tech world. Love or hate Google glass, it seems as if wearable tech is in the future- if not for us, then perhaps for our kids. Smart watches want to replace your smart phone. Smart wristbands want to track all your steps and exercise movements. Over 100 apps exist to quantify the quality of your sleep. There’s even a tiny camera that you can clip to your shirt pocket that takes photos every five seconds and uploads the photos to your social network of choice. It used to be that…

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“Bracketology”, the Big Dance, and the Quest for Perfection

“Bracketology”, the Big Dance, and the Quest for Perfection

Warren Buffett has given away more money that one thousand of us can give away in one thousand lifetimes, but now he’s just getting bored. Buffett is offering one billion (with a b) dollars for a “perfect NCAA bracket”. Apparently, a perfect bracket has never been accomplished in the 64 team era. The odds of achieving the perfect bracket are in the quintillions (with a q, and a lot of zeros). That’s not stopping tens of millions of people from filling out Buffett’s bracket – hey it’s free! I’ve got mine in there and I’ve got a pretty good feeling,…

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Play to Order and the Gamification of Parenting

Play to Order and the Gamification of Parenting

One of the most difficult and awkward things about being a youth minister was billing the events we would organize. We would tell kids about how much fun or profound something would be, hoping they would come, and we wouldn’t be lying. We knew the retreat/camp/outing would be a great time; they always were. But the second those words escaped your mouth (“the most fun you’ll ever have! the trip of a lifetime!”), they rang hollow. You could see it in the looks on the faces of whomever you were addressing. How fun could something be if you had to…

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