An enormous thank you to everyone who helped out in Houston!! We are so grateful for how it all went. We’ll be catching our breath today (Monday) — look for new posts tomorrow (Tuesday).

Houston Breakout Preview: Buried by Potential – Or Jesus Talks FOMO

Much of what popularly falls under the term FOMO has to do with the incessant demands of life with technology. Wireless/tech commercials now make light of it, even while it is the very pathology that keeps them in business. Because of social media updates and ever-accessible email, there are all kinds of ways to find out what everyone you care about—and everyone you don’t—is doing. But FOMO is not just for anxious techies. Fear of missing out is really just a hashtag-friendly way to express something we’ve felt since the dawn of time. Whenever we talk about the way we should have handled a conversation, the life we could have had if only (you-name-it) happened, why so-and-so hasn’t called like they used to—whether it’s called “FOMO” or “the Joneses” or “status anxiety”, we know what it feels like to “miss out” on some great (or small) purpose in our lives.

And the good news is that this experience of “missing out” is not lost on Jesus, either. In fact, a significant number of his parables have to do with the experience of missing the boat, of seeing our lives through the lives we’ve lost or left behind, or of trying to build an “insured” life for ourselves, one that will never miss out. Jesus, again and again, tells stories that point us away from our tightly held notions of security, and into the uncharted territories of risk and trust.

Join me for the first breakout session as we talk about the human trends towards regret and anxiety, and the illustrations given to us in the parables of Christ. (There may be some cameos from some of our favorite FOMO commentators too.)

Click here to sign up for the Houston Conference!

Drifting Closer in the Dark: An Introduction to the Musical Folklore of Slaid Cleaves

Drifting Closer in the Dark: An Introduction to the Musical Folklore of Slaid Cleaves

We could not be more excited to have Slaid Cleaves join us for the Houston Conference next week. It’s just one of the reasons we hope you’ll meet us there.

There’s plenty of eye-rolling when it comes to American country and folk music, mainly because so much of what used to constitute its storytelling now seems untrue. Songs about rust and horses and top hands and tree yodelers—this used to be far-reaching content; it has since shrunken into American oblivion, re-visited mainly in nichey beer bars by minor players. For anyone other than the Americana devotees, country songs consist, at best, of naïve nostalgia about “simpler times”, and at worst, of abject denial about who we are. And perhaps it is true.

Fall Conference in Houston – HAPPENING NOW!

The full schedule for our Fall Conference! Be sure to check out the conference site for more details or to pre-register.

Friday October 17th
9:00am Opening Prayer Service and Devotion – David Browder
9:30am The Good News of a High Risk God – Aaron Zimmerman
10:30am Morning Breakouts

12:00pm Lunch – Tex Mex Extravaganza
1:30pm Risky Business: Jesus Meets a Control Freak – RJ Heijmen
2:15pm Afternoon Breakouts

6:15pm Talk 1 – Tullian Tchividjian
7:00pm Dinner – BBQ Feast
7:30pm Slaid Cleaves in concert (with The Magills opening!)
Saturday October 18th
9:00am Opening Worship and Devotion
9:30am Talk 2 – Tullian Tchividjian
10:15am Q&A with Tullian
10:45am I Feel Like I Win When I Lose – David Zahl
12:30pm Book Table closes


Introducing Eden and Afterward – Will McDavid

Another gem from our conference from Will McDavid, discussing his new book, Eden and Afterward.

Eden and Afterward: Introducing a Mockingbird Guide to Genesis ~ Will McDavid from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

2014 Fall Conference in Houston TX (10/17-18) – Pre-Registration Now Open!


Grace works without requiring anything on our part. It’s not expensive. It’s not even cheap. It’s free. – Robert Capon

The grace of God does not play it safe. It is imprudent, risky, foolish. It cannot be contained by the walls we build and masks we wear. It moves beyond deserving, pushing the envelope of forgiveness and dispersing the shadows of shame and guilt. God, “whose property it is always to have mercy”, does not flinch from reality–not from our hopes and dreams, our hurts and disappointments, our proudest moments or most embarrassing failures.

This October, at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Houston, TX, we invite you to explore “The Risk of Grace” with us, how the Gospel fearlessly addresses the control freak in us all. Our keynote speaker will be preacher and author Tullian Tchividjian. He will be joined by a host of Mockingbird contributors, including David Zahl, Sarah Condon, Aaron Zimmerman, and RJ Heijmen. The Rev. David Browder will serve as the conference chaplain. We’ve even enlisted one of our favorite Texas singer-songwriters, Slaid Cleaves, to play a concert for us!

As always, the emphasis will be on where the freedom of the Gospel touches down in places that matter (and some that don’t), from romance and parenting to pop culture and social media, theology and literature, and lots more. Look for info about accommodations next week and the full schedule in early August. The event will run all day on Friday (9am-9pm) and half-day on Saturday (9am-12:30pm). The conference fee is $60, which covers the full program, plus lunch and dinner on Friday (which will be delicious). Childcare is provided for all the main sessions.


Thomas Cranmer’s Gospel of Divine Allurement – Ashley Null

The fun never ends! Here’s Dr. Null’s presentation from our NYC Conference, which was delivered immediately after Tim Kreider’s. It was quite dramatic:

Thomas Cranmer’s Gospel of Divine Allurement ~ Ashley Null from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Everything I Never Learned From Seinfeld

Everything I Never Learned From Seinfeld

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of our all time favorite show’s premiere, we offer up a re-run of “a breakout session about nothing”:

Rochelle Rochelle. Yo Yo Ma. Vandelay Industries. Marble Rye. Del Boca Vista. Get Out! The sea was angry that day. I’m a Da-ay Person. These. Pretzels. Are. Making. Me. Thirsty.

You got that right, mojambo–our 2012 NYC Conference included an hour long session on about the greatest sitcom of all time, Seinfeld.

W.H. Auden once wrote that “Christian comedy is based upon the belief that all men are sinners; no one, therefore, whatever his rank or talents, can claim…

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Jesus, Nietzsche & Me – Tim Kreider

You may be surprised to hear we’ve gotten more positive feedback on Tim’s talk than almost any other. We unfortunately weren’t able to include the slides from the powerpoint, so a few jokes may lack punchlines (apologies!). Needless to say, he took us out of our comfort zone in a very engaging way.

Jesus, Nietzsche & Me ~ Tim Kreider from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

To read what we’ve written about Tim Kreider over the years, click here.

5 x P = Human Identity – John Zahl

Alrighty, time for the video of DJ JAZ’s five disco-tastic devotions from the conference. Since they were conceived as a whole, we took the liberty of editing them together in the order in which they were presented, namely: “Presentation”, “Profession”, “Pedigree”, “Predisposition” and “Passion”. Boogie down!

Devotion Series ~ John Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Those interested in the (amazing) music he plays can find more info here.

The Rationalist Delusion and the Perils of Certainty – Jonathan Haidt

Didn’t think we’d reached the end of the videos, had you? Not by long shot! Here’s Dr. Haidt’s fantastic presentation from Saturday morning:

The Ratonalist Delusion & the Perils of Certainty ~ Jonathan Haidt from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

On Not Being C.S. Lewis – Francis Spufford

A highlight, if not the highlight of our recent NYC Conference had to be Francis’ talk from Saturday morning. A true must-watch for anyone interested in speaking/writing/talking about Christianity in a modern context, as well as (what we would like to think are) our animating principles:

On Not Being C.S. Lewis ~ Francis Spufford from Mockingbird on Vimeo.