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Of Death & Southern Comfort: The Making of an Everyday Priest

Of Death & Southern Comfort: The Making of an Everyday Priest

Walking through an abandoned rent house and seeing the ruins of former tenants is an exercise in human connection—archaeology of life, or the privation of it. In nearly twenty years, I haven’t often found deep meaning in getting a house “rent ready,” but I find myself being taken in by the nihilistic futility of Rust Cohle as I traverse from one scene of archaeological ruin to the next. Nothing draws these connections as powerfully, though, as when the ruins are left in a tenant’s wake even though their earthly body still blocks the house’s front entrance. This just happened a…

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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt. 2: The Collapse of Human Civilization

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt. 2: The Collapse of Human Civilization

This is the second installment of author Ted Scofield’s series on “everybody else’s biggest problem.” If you missed his introduction to the series, you can read it here. New installments will be posted every two weeks, on Tuesdays.

“The United States has become a greedier, meaner, colder, more selfish, and more uncaring place. This is no wild inferential speculation but, rather, the informed consensus of the American people.” – James Patterson & Peter Kim, The Day America Told the Truth

“James Patterson is an American author with a net worth of $350 million … Patterson earned $90 million in the last 12…

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Letters from Old Boxes: Searching for a Wild Love

Letters from Old Boxes: Searching for a Wild Love

Two years after moving into our house, my husband and I have finally unpacked. We got through all the easy stuff first: kid toys, old clothes, books that we will never actually read. And then we began to deal with the heavier stuff of life. Which astonishingly seems to come in the form of papers.

There were photographs from prom (his) and programs from earnestly bad high school theatre productions (mine). We found our first driver’s licenses and concert tickets. But mostly, there were pages of letters from old boyfriends. There was correspondence in that box that went from 7th grade crushes…

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Ines Boubakri of Tunisia, left and Nicole Ross of the United States compete in the round of 32 during women's fencing at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Saving Face: the Relational Politics of “I Don’t Know”

This post was co-written by Samantha McKean and Kristen Gunn. Sam is a student at Duke Divinity School, where she’s realizing what she actually does and doesn’t know. Kristen is heavily into words and why we say them, which is how this conversation became a post.

Sam: I say “I don’t know,” a lot. It’s a filler, a tic, the new “um” or “like” that your Com101 professors warned you about. It comes tacked onto the end of my sentences like sad parade banners. Most of the time, I don’t even notice I’m saying it.

I have a friend who always calls…

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In a World of Suffering, the “And Yet”

In a World of Suffering, the “And Yet”

Well, Modern Love’s Daniel Jones is certainly not on vacation. This past Friday’s installment of our favorite relationships column was a heat-seeking missile into the dark depths of marital skepticism. Surprisingly, though, the article does not object to marital skepticism–it normalizes it. Ada Calhoun writes about her own 10+ years of marriage and the difficulties that quickly skimmed off the fluff of most wedding toasts you hear–“I will never let you down,” “You will always be my best friend,” etc. Strangely enough, Calhoun indicates the inherent optimism of these kinds of toasts as part of the problem. We feel entitled to their sentiments, so much so…

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Check, Please!

Check, Please!

Being a college student means asking for separate checks at restaurants. Generally, my friends and I wait until the end of the meal to say, “Oh yea, could you split those up by the way? Yeah that’d be great, thanks,” as if it was an afterthought and the waiter/waitress had no idea what was coming all along. In truth, splitting up checks is pretty annoying. It means more buttons pressed and cards swiped and pens gathered, and I do often feel pangs of guilt asking servers to do it. But generally they’re accommodating, and they know what to expect when…

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Everyone Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt 1: An Introduction

Everyone Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt 1: An Introduction

Very excited to kick off a series of posts from Ted Scofield, author of the novel Eat What You Kill (soon to be a major motion picture from the acclaimed producer of Wall Street, American Psycho and many other films). Ted was a featured speaker at our 2015 Spring Conference in New York City, which is also where he and his wife, artist Christi Scofield, reside. Here comes the introduction:

“Slam Dunk”

I thought I had a slam dunk. No, I knew I had a slam dunk, and I told my editor so.

Two consistent data sets, with tantalizingly disconnected conclusions and implications….

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New York Tenements and the Green, Green Grass of Home

New York Tenements and the Green, Green Grass of Home

As a young person in New York City, one of my favorite spots was the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. Through touring actual old tenement apartments, the museum tells the difficult and often tragic story of 19th century immigrants to Manhattan.

I loved it because it felt like they were telling my story. As strange as it may sound, when we moved to the Big Apple I felt as though I had landed on another planet. At the time I was a 24 year old befuddled Mississippian who cried (often) standing in front of Subway maps.

Of course, my problems…

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2015 Kanuga Renewal Conference: Rest

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An enormous thanks to all those who make last week’s Renewal Conference at Kanuga happen. It was such a joy and privilege to be asked to provide the content, and spend a week with such a wonderful group of people (in such a beautiful place). Best of all, the time itself proved genuinely restful for all involved. The recordings of the main sessions are now up on The Mockingpulpit as well as the Recordings page, but for those who would rather stream or download directly from here, you’re in luck.

1. Rest for the Restless – David Zahl

2. Christian Obstacles to Rest – Jacob Smith

3. Rest in the Bible, part 1 – Jady Koch

4. Rest in the Bible, part 2 – Jady Koch

5. How Rest Is Applied – Jacob Smith

6. The Life of Rest – David Zahl

7. Closing Question and Answer Session – DZ, JS & JDK

Rubbing the Rabbit’s Foot: a Chronicle of Failure (with Free Quotes from Interesting People)

Rubbing the Rabbit’s Foot: a Chronicle of Failure (with Free Quotes from Interesting People)

I did everything I could to avoid posting something this week.

I slowly and meticulously inventoried all our books, even alphabetized them. I spent an afternoon hiding in the attic (read: furnace in the sky), then prolongedly squawked about how hot it was. I made a lot of pour-over coffees. I initiated long conversations about any- and everything with people who had better things to do, including the homeless people in the park across the street.

And then the worst possible thing happened, which is that my to-do list of inverted priorities dwindled down to one major item left glaring up at me from…

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The Mockingbird Issue 5 Out Now!

The Forgiveness Issue is here! Order your (boyfriend’s, stepdad’s, daughter’s) copy today! To check out the Opener and Table of Contents, click here.

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Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Seven Verses Sixteen through Nineteen

This morning’s devotion comes from the main character in this video

You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 7:16-19, NASB)

3039842-slide-s-5-hipstory-leadersI grew up in the South, where this was an often-quoted verse. And people said things like, “We’re not judging, we’re just being fruit inspectors.” I’m not kidding. I’ve actually heard people say that, and they believed it. Conversely, I recently came across this quote from good ol’ Honest Abe: “A man watches his pear tree day after day, impatient for the ripening of the fruit. Let him attempt to force the process, and he may spoil both fruit and tree. But let him patiently wait, and the ripe pear falls at length into his lap.”

Quaint as it may be, I feel like this relates much more to what Jesus is really talking about. If the standard is perfection, and we all fail equally, then how can anyone be a “fruit inspector”?

I once listened to a preacher talk about how profoundly passive a metaphor the fruit tree was. Think about it: a tree has no input on where it’s planted, where it grows, or even what kind of fruit it produces. It’s completely at the mercy of external forces as to whether it even produces fruit to begin with. A tree has no say in the matter. It simply must be what it is.

This is oddly comforting. God is working out His plan in, through, and all around us. It’s often difficult, but I know I can trust that. Passivity is the key to activity. Seems counterintuitive, but if we take Abe for his word, it actually works.