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Grace in Admissions

Grace in Admissions

In the mid-day haze following a 4 AM After-Prom chaperoning experience at an arcade, I’ve been reflecting on the year before and the year ahead. Perhaps this is what four hours of go-carts, laser tag, and skee-ball encourage you to do. More likely, it just happens to be May. In the world of education, this is my New Year’s Eve, my time for reflection and resolutions.

As a college counselor at an independent school, late May is especially conducive to rumination. The seniors who once (rightfully) complained about the roller coaster ride of the college admissions process are…

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Tom Brady vs. Gaylord Perry – On Doctoring Balls to Gain an Advantage, and Lying About It

Tom Brady vs. Gaylord Perry – On Doctoring Balls to Gain an Advantage, and Lying About It

Over the past few days, I’ve kept wondering if Tom Brady secretly stole Pentagon documents – the sin appears to be THAT egregious.  Scandal, thy new name (apparently) is “Deflate-Gate”.  ESPN and sports talk radio have been covering the New England Patriot ball deflation scandal on continuous loop. The story, which first broke in the weeks prior to this year’s Super Bowl, is that the Patriots’ equipment staff (per Brady’s orders) stuck needles in the team issued footballs and took the air pressure below NFL mandated levels before the 2015 AFC Patriots-Colts Championship Game. The suspicion was originally raised by…

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Being Human in an Age of Ultron

Being Human in an Age of Ultron

This review comes to us from Ian Olson – spoilers follow.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron is a bafflingly different film from its cherished predecessor. It takes enormous risks which, when they succeed, succeed spectacularly, but at their worst only fail to spark. What The Godfather Part II is to The Godfather, Age of Ultron is to the first Avengers, and the enlargement of scope and emotional intensity smooth out the splintered edges where Joss Whedon’s vision outstripped his reach. Its scope is astonishingly wide: it probes an array of existential questions and, in true Whedon fashion, doesn’t shy away from…

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The Storyless Self: Thoughts on Greed, Consumerism, and Desire

The Storyless Self: Thoughts on Greed, Consumerism, and Desire

“What is greed?” It’s a good question, and it is one which was posed to me by Ted Scofield during his breakout at the Mockingbird Conference a month ago. (You can hear the audio recording here.) According to Ted, several statistics and polls reveal that we Americans collectively see greed as a societal problem yet deny it as an issue in our individual lives. Merely citing the addictive behavior around smartphone upgrades revealed to me, a self-professed wannabe techie, that there is a problem: “We have grown weary and dubious of all the technology upgrades. For the first time in a…

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Jamin Warren’s Games for Non-Gamers: A Magazine List

Jamin Warren’s Games for Non-Gamers: A Magazine List

From our Work and Play Issue, this list comes from Jamin Warren, who blew minds at MbirdNYC15 this past Friday. For those who want more Jamin, his gaming festival Two5Six is taking place in May, and the lineup looks pretty unbelievable. He’s also hinted at an Mbird group rate, which if you go here you can redeem.

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, an esteemed, well-respected cultural historian named Johan Huizinga undertook a very strange project given his post. He wanted to understand the nature of play in all of its forms. What Huizinga found and subsequently argued was that…

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A Tyler Talk on Getting It Together: A Lesson in Failure

A Tyler Talk on Getting It Together: A Lesson in Failure

This talk came from Keith Pozzuto, the minister for spiritual formation at Christ Church in Tyler. To listen to the other talks we posted earlier in the week, go here. 

One of the bishops who ordained me told me the story of how he became a bishop. It is a perfect example of a work in failure: He started in England as a parish priest and found it to be very exhausting, so he found that there was a parish that was open in the country in northern Spain. Looking for a better climate and sensing a call, he moved himself and…

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The Seventh Deadly Sin: A Conference Breakout Preview

The Seventh Deadly Sin: A Conference Breakout Preview

This conference preview comes from Ted Scofield. 

Of the Seven Deadly Sins, it’s the last one on our list. Number seven, at the bottom, out of sight, out of mind. Anger, pride, gluttony, laziness, lust and envy — we’ll cop to all of those sins, but greed?

What? Who? Me?

Research shows that most of us agree: Greed is someone else’s problem, not mine. Wall Street fat cats are greedy, welfare freeloaders are greedy, millenials, baby boomers, short people, tall people, those people over there, anybody but me! During this breakout session at the upcoming Mockingbird conference (Friday, April 17, 10:30am), together we’ll explore how…

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Waffle Makers and Blueberry Forests: Learning to Live Again (in Prison)

Waffle Makers and Blueberry Forests: Learning to Live Again (in Prison)

In the same Sunday issue, The New York Times Magazine published two articles that drew some not-so-subtle conclusions about the American prison system, about its problematic rise in numbers, about its entrenched recidivism, and about its inherent contradictions to the American themes of freedom, opportunity, and hope. Of the two articles, one of them was a character study of ADX in Colorado, “America’s Toughest Federal Prison.”

Since opening in 1994, the ADX has remained not just the only federal supermax but also the apogee of a particular strain of the American penal system, wherein abstract dreams of rehabilitation have been entirely…

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Filling the Void with Fitness: A Conference Breakout Preview

Filling the Void with Fitness: A Conference Breakout Preview

This one comes to us from Mockingtern Evan Brush:

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote last fall about the decline in the number of cults capturing America’s attention. He recalled the 1980s when cults worried the parents of estranged children and often caught headlines for all the wrong reasons. However, Douthat actually saw the decline in cults as indicative of a lack of vitality in American religious life: less people seeking to go outside the mainstream in search of the answers to the big questions. He thinks that the lack of a somewhat radical fringe is indicative of stagnation within…

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No Hands Are Clean But Christ’s: Phil Klay’s Redeployment

No Hands Are Clean But Christ’s: Phil Klay’s Redeployment

“Twenty centuries of Christianity,” I said. “You’d think we’d learn.” I fingered the small cross. “In this world, He only promises we don’t suffer alone.”

-Phil Klay, Redeployment

2014’s National Book Award winner is an unusual one in several ways. First, it is not a novel but a collection of short stories. Its author is part of a new generation of writers who served in the War on Terror. And finally it goes beyond a simple celebration of the ‘other 1%,’ Americans who serve in the armed forces, and looks deeply and with a tone both tragic and colloquial into the moral…

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Addressing the “Grace Gap” in American Churches

Addressing the “Grace Gap” in American Churches

The widely loved writer and thinker Philip Yancey (who also happens to be coming to Mockingbirdtown this week) has come out with a new book, called Vanishing Grace: Whatever Happened to the Good News? In it, he seems to have a lot to say about the falling state of American Christendom in its cultural conception, not as being lovers and welcomers and forgivers, but as being rigidly judgmental, self-oriented, and more or less “anti-” everything.

I’m excited about the book, mainly because I’ve seen Yancey speak before, at St. George’s in Nashville, and the guy has a dispensary of stories about grace. He…

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Mindful of Our Busyness: Notes on Another Epidemic (and Its Relief)

Mindful of Our Busyness: Notes on Another Epidemic (and Its Relief)

A pair of (somewhat) related articles came across my desk yesterday that seem especially relevant with the new ‘Work and Play’ issue of The Mockingbird shipping today. The first is the latest dispatch on that cultural flashpoint known as Busyness. In a pithy blogpost for The Huffington Post, Scott Dannemiller contends that “Busyness Is a Sickness”. Particularly interesting to me was the distinction he makes between ‘busyness’ and ‘stress’, one being elective (in theory) and the other not, ht SM:

Dr. Susan Koven practices internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. In a 2013 Boston Globe column, she wrote:

In the past…

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