New Here?
     
America

The Best of Us, "The Americans," Might Be Russian…

The Best of Us, “The Americans,” Might Be Russian…

What’s more important? Figuring out who we serve? Or figuring out whose we are?

True confession: I’m not moved much to action or opinion regarding our current political landscape. (This is not a political post; for that to be so, it would presuppose that I much care.) Mid-term primaries in our troubled times don’t interest me. I may or may not have cared to vote this past Tuesday here in Georgia. I deeply appreciate freedom, but it has never been my highest value. Proud of my country? Yes. Do I root for America in the World Cup and the Olympics? Absolutely!…

Read More > > >

Violence & Faith

Violence & Faith

LeBron and Curry are crushing the NBA Finals. The never-anything Washington Capitals and never-before Las Vegas Golden Knights are a Dream Fantasy of Stanley Cup legendizing. Even baseball has some sex appeal amid a Yanks/Sox Genetic Superiority Grudge Match.

But if you are a sports monogamist like me, and you love football, this is the lamest time of the year. At every level, last season has faded into anecdotal irrelevance. Those who are coaching or playing know that spring practice is either over or is soon to be over. NFL followers are so over the draft and the kneeling (or not), and…

Read More > > >

Let Us Now Praise Lebron James

Let Us Now Praise Lebron James

It is difficult to imagine now, but there was a time when he could not be counted on when it mattered.

Vividly I remember June 2011, when my Mavericks were made the agent of God’s moral retribution, which he spares us in life but applies in the world of sport. Those Mavericks pre-figured many of the teams Lebron James had dragged to the NBA Finals before and would drag in later years, including this year: led by one transcendent star, Dirk Notwitzki, a Swiss Army Knife of a player from neighboring Germany, the Mavs were otherwise a thrown-together group of single-dimensional…

Read More > > >

Depth of Fields: Stewarding the Stewards of a Movement

Depth of Fields: Stewarding the Stewards of a Movement

Mike Spackman’s voice broke a little as he described the experience of being awarded 2017’s Cook of the Year at the BBC’s Food and Farming Awards. He said when The Naked Chef himself, Jamie Oliver, announced his name, it was like that scene from Babe, where Farmer Hoggett says, “That’ll do pig, that’ll do.” His Britishness made those tears somehow even more poignant. Shelia Dillon, the host of BBC 4’s The Food Programme, and one of the judges, described the Awards like this:

This, we believe, is the one moment in the year when Britain comes together to celebrate the country’s unheralded heroes. People…

Read More > > >

Boycotting Communion (& Other Tales from a Divided Church and World) – RJ Heijmen

From our recent conference in NYC (themed “The Grace of God in Divided Times”), here’s Thursday night’s opening talk with Mockingcast host RJ Heijmen.

Boycotting Communion (& Other Tales from a Divided Church and World) – RJ Heijmen from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Are We Divided Because We're Lonely? Or Lonely Because We're Divided?

Are We Divided Because We’re Lonely? Or Lonely Because We’re Divided?

Han Zicheng was barking up the right tree.

Last December, the 85-year old Chinese widower made headlines when he put himself up for adoption. Han was suffering from chronic loneliness but had passed the age where seeking out some kind of fresh give-and-take companionship made sense. He needed an arrangement that acknowledged his frailty and didn’t require him to contribute much if anything. In other words, he craved the sort of care that only a family, or something family-like, could provide–people that would care for him simply because. As the notice he posted at bus stops in his neighborhood explained:

“My hope…

Read More > > >

What They Don't Show You On Fixer Upper

What They Don’t Show You On Fixer Upper

In keeping with the millennial stereotype of rustic appeal, my wife and I bought our first home this summer, a “fixer-upper” with a lot of character, wet insulation, and dead birds. We took a selfie out front, made a list of future projects, hired a contractor, personally knocked some walls out, and let some light into a house that had not been lived in for nearly ten years. We slapped a fresh coat of paint on the outside, with a green accent door, and voila! Home! Eat it, Chip and Jojo…got no time for that shiplap!

Of course, it has not…

Read More > > >

Grace in the Age of Fentanyl

Grace in the Age of Fentanyl

“[Karl] Marx famously called religion the opiate of the masses, but these days opiates are the opiates of the masses.”

That’s the first variation of this observation I came across last week, via Tim Kreider’s new I Wrote This Book Because I Love You. The second run-in occurred a couple days later, toward the middle of Andrew Sullivan’s mammoth “The Poison You Pick” essay in New York Magazine. He writes:

“If Marx posited that religion is the opiate of the people, then we have reached a new, more clarifying moment in the history of the West: Opiates are now the religion of…

Read More > > >

In Defense of Thoughts and Prayers

In Defense of Thoughts and Prayers

Tragic school shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida this week are becoming an all-too-common occurrence in our culture. Ubiquitous screens and news outlets surround us as we encounter these tragedies, in a second-handed fashion, in a strange collective way (only those directly affected can experience them). As with any repeated and communal form of storytelling, the presentation of the events in the media take on a familiar, almost ritualistic form. As different as the various tragedies are, their presentation to us can seem more and more the same. Familiar breaking news graphics, talking heads, pundits and policy advocates are…

Read More > > >

Prohibition (Mostly) Does Not Work

Prohibition (Mostly) Does Not Work

Being one of those Baby Boomer antiquaries, I was caused by (and witnessed) a unique cultural evolution. No, not the 60s. It began with Prohibition, which was tried on my parents’ generation and was an epic fail — its genesis was unassailable and its failure inevitable.

Before the Industrial Age, hard cider was relatively safer to drink than well water, so many were drunk soon after waking. Drinking (and smoking) were just things people did amid the chaos of our 19th century culture, until it became clear that drinking simply killed people. Then, Prohibition became the cause of Saviors. And their…

Read More > > >

"Chip in My Brain": This American Life Buried the Lede

“Chip in My Brain”: This American Life Buried the Lede

Like many here at Mockingbird, I’m a big fan of This American Life and Serial/S-Town and all of those NPRish, WBEC Chicago Public Radio podcasts. I’ve been listening to the TAL podcasts for going on four years now, and “Chip in My Brain” (Jan 13, 2018) is the most compelling to date, for me. That’s a huge compliment in my opinion, because, while TAL (much like 60 Minutes) can be a bit “hit or miss,” it usually hits, and this time, I wonder if it even knows what it has stumbled upon.

Going forward here, there will be some spoilage, and that is significant….

Read More > > >

Step Back From That Ledge? Outdoor Activity, 'the Progression Mindset,' and the Pressure of Experience

Step Back From That Ledge? Outdoor Activity, ‘the Progression Mindset,’ and the Pressure of Experience

Imagine you’re on a hike. (Where I live, everyone loves to hike.) Imagine you’re out in the woods, and you’ve been on the trail for hours, going steadily uphill, stepping carefully over rocks and slippery wet roots. By the time you reach the summit, you’ve eaten all your snacks, drunk most of your water, and rolled your ankle once or twice. But you’re there! You’ve made it. And you’re enjoying the view when suddenly you notice, in the distance, another peak, just slightly higher than the one you’re on.

It turns out you haven’t reached the summit. That’s another mile along….

Read More > > >