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Life at Play – Jamin Warren

First video from our recent conference in NYC is ready to go! Jamin Warren’s presentation still has people buzzing, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it makes a whole lot more sense with the accompanying Powerpoint–the laughs especially. Don’t forget to check out Jamin’s full-time gig, Kill Screen:

Life at Play – Jamin Warren from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Does Jesus Like Donuts? The After-Party for the Sermon on the Mount – Aaron Zimmerman

The first of a slew of conference videos is here, Aaron’s ridiculously inspired talk from Texas! Many thanks, again, to Mark and David Babikow for making this possible:

Does Jesus Like Donuts? The After-Party for the Sermon on the Mount – Aaron Zimmerman from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

2015 NYC Conference Recordings: Clean Slate – Absolution in Real Life

2015 NYC Conference Recordings: Clean Slate – Absolution in Real Life

An incredibly heartfelt thank-you to everyone who helped put on this year’s conference in NYC, especially our friends at Calvary St. George’s. We couldn’t be more grateful for how it all went. We are excited to announce that next year’s NY Conference will take place April 14-16, 2016!

Once again we are making the recordings available at no charge; we only ask that those who were not able to attend this year consider making a donation to help cover the cost of the event. Download links are followed by an in-line player for each recording. Almost everything was videotaped, and we’ll…

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2015 NYC Conference Book Table

2015 NYC Conference Book Table

Thanks again, so much, to all the volunteers, speakers, and attendees of our 2015 New York Conference! Recordings and videos are on their way, but for now, here’s what we featured this year on our conference book table. A bunch of familiar suspects with a few new additions (for more Recommended Reading, click here):

Photo courtesy of Ellis Creek Photography (


W.H. Auden, The Dyer’s Hand and Other Essays
T.S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party
Mary Karr, Sinners Welcome: Poems
Flannery O’Conner, The Complete Stories
J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
Ted Scofield, Eat What You Kill
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis: The Ballad of Reading Gaol and Other Writings

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Write-Up of NYC Conference

As we in C’ville continue to recover from what was a truly wonderful weekend–thank you, Cal St. G’s!–we invite you to check out the write-up of the event that just went up over at Liberate. Very gracious. Even the conference magician gets a nod (as well he should).

God’s Salty Lamb: A Conference Breakout Preview

God’s Salty Lamb: A Conference Breakout Preview

The Economist wrote an obituary for Robert Farrar Capon after his death in 2013, and they had this to say about the food writer/theologian’s style of life:

Mr Capon had no time for strict scorekeeping, in the kitchen or anywhere else. Grace, not willpower, dealt with sin: Jesus came to save the world, not to judge it. Showy piety, legalism and quietism were all abominations, almost as much as the cheap oil and harsh flavours of phoney ethnic food.

His own scorecard had some blots. Divorce from the mother of his six children cost him his parish on Long Island and his…

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Jesus as the Ultimate Mr. Clean: A Conference Breakout Preview

Jesus as the Ultimate Mr. Clean: A Conference Breakout Preview

Life’s a mess. This is incontrovertibly true, no matter who you are. Some of us are better at hiding it (hedge fund managers, Dalai Lamas, me) than others (Kardashians, hacky-sack players, you), but we’re all a mess. We all want to be able to put our mess behind us; to start over. We all want a clean slate; to be washed. That’s why we’re coming to New York (a place that is truly a mess…I’m looking at you, trash night…er, rat night)…David Zahl (a mess) has promised us a conference that will tell us about this mythical creature: the cleaned…

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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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2015 Tyler Conference Recordings: Tangled Up in Grace


A Texas-sized thank-you to everyone who helped put on our conference in Tyler last month, especially the fabulous–and ridiculously ecumenical–steering committee, led by the indefatigable Matt Magill. Huge thanks to all the sponsors as well: B3 Ministries, Bethel Bible, Christ Episcopal, Porch Culture Coffee Roasters, and True Vine Brewery, not to mention Mark and David Babikow, who once again came to our rescue on the A/V front. Vielen dank to Richard Dvorak for taking such awesome photos, too.

As per usual, we’re making the recordings available at no charge; we only ask that those who were not able to attend this year *consider* tossing something in the hat to help cover the cost of the event. Download links are followed by an in-line player for each session. The main sessions were also videotaped, and we’ll be rolling the clips out gradually over the next few weeks.


TALK 1.  Lay Down Your Weary Tune: Everyday Life and the Roots of Exhaustion – David Zahl

TALK 2.  Does Jesus Like Donuts? The After-Party for the Sermon on the Mount – Aaron Zimmerman


BREAKOUT 1.  Hiding in the Bathroom: Why Inspired Parenting Will Kill You – Sarah Condon (click here for Powerpoint)

BREAKOUT 2What the #$%* is A Jackson Pollock: The Messy Grace of Modern Art – Randy Randall

BREAKOUT 3.  Where Everybody Knows Your Name: Beer is Good, God is Great, People are Lonely – Ryan Dixon

BREAKOUT 4.  Management, Control, and Getting It Together: A Work in Failure – Keith Pozzuto*

*There was sadly a technological snafu and Keith’s session did not make it onto tape. He agreed to write it up for us, though, and you can read it here.

TALK 3.  Shelter From the Storm: The Refuge of Our Merciful Friend – David Zahl


Cold Dead Hands: The Everything and Nothing of a Clean Slate (A Conference Preview)

This morning’s conference preview comes from Sarah Condon. Oh, and may we refer you to the (ridiculous!) menu we’re offering at the conference? Goodness.

After an especially long days at Casa Condon, when the kids are demanding, the husband is cranky, and I am starting to treat my family like there’s a camera crew from Bravo about to capture my own personal breakthrough/breakdown, one thought often comes into my mind: Someday, I get to be dead. Gosh, that’s going to be nice. Everything will be quiet.

shutterstock_201599033But the news of a Clean Slate rolls in and tells me I already am dead. Or, at least I am in the process of dying. I have been given a Clean Slate in Christ and in the immortal words of Mbird favorite Robert Farrar Capon:

The whole slop-closet full of mildewed performances (which is all you have to offer) is simply your death; it is Jesus who is your life. If he refused to condemn you because your works were rotten, he certainly isn’t going to flunk you because your faith isn’t so hot. You can fail utterly, therefore, and still live the life of grace. You can fold up spiritually, morally, or intellectually and still be safe. Because at the very worst, all you can be is dead – and for him who is the Resurrection and the Life, that just makes you his cup of tea.

I also want to talk about what we mean when we trot out the much beloved Romans 6, “Dead to sin, alive in Christ.” What do we mean by this death? What do we lose by dying? And are we really the ones who choose to give it up?

If you’re thinking this sounds dark, you are right on the money. But if you’re sick of acting like Starbucks platitudes are life-giving, then join us for this talk. We’ve got a club and a handshake. And the only requirement is inevitable death.

The world tells us we can control our behavioral destinies. We can make choices to improve ourselves and our nasty, hidden habits. Well, bullhockey. I don’t think we do anything, except that we start dying. And God, in all of His mercy, pries our #bestlifenow from our cold dead hands. And offers us the sweet relief of a Clean Slate. Clean of our heartbreak. Clean of our grudges. Clean of our sin.

Pick Up Your La-Z-Boy and Follow Me: An NYC Conference Preview

The Theology of False Absolution in Christian Kitsch

i-115d13b18d3b104621321fd8c7cc6c6f-chief_of_the_medical_staff_greene_lHave you ever unsuspectingly picked up a novelty mug from your local Christian book store, looked at the image on its side and found yourself thinking, “Hey, I thought Rembrandt was the ‘Painter of Light’? Who does this Thomas Kinkade guy think he is anyway!?” Well, you’re not alone! Join us as we explore how paintings and visual art speak a language all of their own; some words of which ring more true than you think, and others…well, you didn’t really think Kinkade’s work qualified as fine art, did you? J

1) First, we’ll look at paintings by artists such as Warner Sallman and Thomas Kinkade, and consider what the paintings themselves communicate about theology (by examining what subject they depict, and, more importantly, how).

2) Next, we’ll consider the theology of the gospel itself, and in what ways these paintings support or supplant that message.

3) Finally, we’ll examine works by Jeff Koons, Francis Bacon, and Vincent van Gough (among others), and repeat our strategy from above, though hopefully with a different outcome!

If you’re an artist, a theologian, or just an amateur art historian who’s curious to see in what ways theology and visual art may intersect, this breakout session is for you. The format of this session will be conversational, so come ready with lots of questions.

Pre-Register for our NYC Conference today!