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Lay Down Your Smartphone and Follow Me? (Just a Second…)

Lay Down Your Smartphone and Follow Me? (Just a Second…)

I owe you an apology. Or at least a confession. Nine months after switching to a flip phone, and about six months after making a big stink about it, I went back to a smart one. I’m not proud.

What got me in the end wasn’t Internet itself. I stand by what I wrote about the cost, both personal and communal, of non-stop web access. I probably undersold it. What made me, er, flip back was two things: music and texts. They were the rationalization, in any case.

I realized about a month into the experiment that I wasn’t willing to live…

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Life Is Too Politicized When Seth Meyers Stops Being Funny

Life Is Too Politicized When Seth Meyers Stops Being Funny

Abraham Kuyper once said that there’s not a microbe in the universe that Christ doesn’t look at and declare “mine”. It feels like American political combative discourse makes the same claim today. Whether it’s chicken sandwiches or late night television, everything is turning shades of red and blue, which will likely lead to us all becoming increasingly black and blue.

I’m a political person. I’ve donated money to a presidential candidate this year. I watch lots of cable news, I sometimes take perverse delight in the combative rhetoric. I’d like to say political infotainment is a guilty pleasure, but I feel…

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Tough Love Lessons in a Year of Jail Ministry

Tough Love Lessons in a Year of Jail Ministry

Before even beginning this post, you probably noticed the one giant, smug asterisk that naturally attached itself to the title: *Oh goodness, that’s right. Can’t believe I forgot to tell you! I do jail ministry. NBD. I’d love to, you know, grab a beer and tell you more about it sometime…

Let me alleviate any forespoken superiority with a quick rejoinder: God did not equip me with enough confidence to throw “successful tips” out about much, and definitely not about doing jail Bible studies. I do not have tips. I am a “sensitive” guy, which does not exactly disqualify me from…

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Of Blessed Memory on September 11: Welles Crowther

Of Blessed Memory on September 11: Welles Crowther

The first time I wrote something for Mockingbird, it was in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. Often, after these tragedies happen, a reactionary narrative responds with stories that are meant to “restore our faith in humanity,” as if the people on the ground are all heroes and the people who set off the bombs were actually robots from another planet. Turns out, we are all human beings. Plus, it is a well-documented fact that I gave up on restoring my faith in us a very long time ago.

I was a senior in high school in May of 2001….

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The Last, the Least, the Lost, the Little and the… Old?

The Last, the Least, the Lost, the Little and the… Old?

I don’t have to think of a clever lead-in for this post. Erlich Bachmann has me more than covered:

That’s a solid four and half minutes of unaired, improvised, and largely top-drawer old-fogey jokes courtesy of T.J. Miller’s Silicon Valley maestro. As with much of what happens on that show, there’s a biting subtext, in this case the writers hinting at what one publication recently called The Brutal Ageism of Tech.

“Another day, another -ism”, the cynical among us might sigh, and at this point you can’t exactly blame them. A culture of complaint has a way of devaluing grievance, especially when it comes…

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What Has Hollywood to Do with Jerusalem?: Production Values and Proclaiming the Gospel in the “Ark Encounter” and Ben Hur

What Has Hollywood to Do with Jerusalem?: Production Values and Proclaiming the Gospel in the “Ark Encounter” and Ben Hur

If size matters, the new theme park in northern Kentucky, the Ark Encounter, is a massive success. The center-piece of the park, which opened in mid-July, is a full-size replica of Noah’s ark, over 500 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high. It is, according to the Ark Encounter website, the “largest timber-frame structure in the world.” The first phase of the park also includes “Ararat Ridge Zoo (with a petting zoo), a 1,500-seat restaurant, a gift store under the Ark, and a zip line.” Future attractions will include “a pre-Flood walled city, the Tower of Babel, a…

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Surviving November

Surviving November

Even though it’s not even September, the weary need their rest. As we enter a particularly vicious (and ridiculous) election cycle, we bring out from the archives our “Surviving November” series from four years back. Based on Jonathan Haidt’s work, The Righteous Mind, DZ delves into the sociology of political strife, and what hope we might be able to gather in spite of it.

 

I. Political Divides, Intuitive Dogs, and Rational Tails

Maybe the non-stop and increasingly ludicrous “opposition ads” have started to make you dread turning on the TV. Maybe you can’t read your (predominantly pop culture-focused!) Twitterfeed without getting depressed about…

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A Just Relief: How the Gospel Inspires Justice and Mercy – Raleigh Sadler

Just when you thought the NYC Conference videos were finished!

A Just Relief: How the Gospel Inspires Justice and Mercy – Raleigh Sadler from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Hiding Under the Stage of Political Certainty

Hiding Under the Stage of Political Certainty

It’s not even September, which means we’ve only just begun to moan at the radio, “Good grief, another piece on approval ratings?!” With three months to go, we’re going to need all the help we can get, which is why I came back to Kathryn Schulz and her book Being Wrong. This excerpt discusses the allure of ‘public displays’ of certainty, even when the evidence plainly proves otherwise. Schulz explains why we, despite the false promises of the past, continue to cast our votes for a certain future.

Certainty might be a practical, logical, and evolutionary necessity, but the simplest truth about it is that it…

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Flannel Antinomians and a Satisfaction Guaranteed

Flannel Antinomians and a Satisfaction Guaranteed

If the pattern keeps going, we’re going to need Ethan Richardson to write volume two of This American Gospel. Ira Glass and crew at This American Life have given us some of our favorite stories and sermon illustration over the years, and episode 591’s exploration of LL Bean’s return policy joins the ranks. If you need a frank discussion about the role of antinomians in 2016, look no further.

Check the glossary for a fuller treatment, but the short spiritual definition of an antinomian is someone who, after encountering the Gospel of love and forgiven sins, “goes rogue” with the “un-Christian…

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Optimizing the Sabbath (One Pillow at a Time)

Optimizing the Sabbath (One Pillow at a Time)

The following originally appeared as a guest post to Amy Julia Becker’s blog over at Christianity Today. Some readers may notice a few, er, congruencies with past Mbird posts:

A couple of years ago, The New York Times ran a remarkably astute editorial about the state of American sleep. Apparently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently declared insomnia to be a full-blown public health epidemic. The “Sleep Industry”—a $32 billion/year endeavor—has responded. They’ve introduced a spate of new soporific technology, from pills and teas and chocolates to bracelets and mattresses. (The number one selling paid app on iTunes this…

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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: American Idol

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: American Idol

Welcome to the seventh and final installment of act three of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem but your own.  If you missed one or more of the previous installments, the entire series can be found here.

Everybody worships … idols. Last time we reached this inevitable and undeniable conclusion, and in it hides the definition of greed.

Everybody worships idols.  At first glance you may disagree, but recall that worship need not involve a supernatural being.  Merriam-Webster defines it as “extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem <worship of the dollar>.”  Dictionary.com says it’s “to feel an adoring reverence or regard for (any…

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