Technology
From The Mockingbird: What Are the Side Effects of the Modern Hospital?

From The Mockingbird: What Are the Side Effects of the Modern Hospital?

We have been delighted (and humbled) to hear all the encouraging words about the first issue of The Mockingbird. If you’re without a copy, it’s not too late to place an order. We’re not biased, but we think you’ll be glad you did. In the following weeks, we’ll be publishing some of the essays from that issue on our magazine’s page, beginning with this one, from R-J Heijmen, on the art of dying in the era of the modern hospital.

While there’s no good way to enjoy a long-form read online–and as far as the look and feel of the magazine,…

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2014 NYC Conference Recordings: Identity, Anxiety & the Christian Message

2014 NYC Conference Recordings: Identity, Anxiety & the Christian Message

An incredibly heartfelt thank-you to everyone who helped put on this year’s Mockingbird Conference in NYC, especially our friends at Calvary St. George’s Church. We took some risks this time around, and if reports are to be believed, it sounds like they paid off. Phew!

We are once again 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 be rolling the…

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Another Week Ends: Normcore, Eterni.me, Colbert’s Late Show Prospects, Post-Grad Advice, and “I Love You, Buts”

Another Week Ends: Normcore, Eterni.me, Colbert’s Late Show Prospects, Post-Grad Advice, and “I Love You, Buts”

Real quick before we get going: Conference recordings should be up early next week! Videos will roll out gradually after that. Also, we’ve pulled Eden and Afterward to make some final changes. Look for a release announcement in the next ten days.

1) Even getting out of the game is part of the game, now. In fact, it is the game de rigueur. If you thought you weren’t in a fashion trend, if you didn’t know a group existed for people who were actually dressed just like most people, now there is, and you are, and it is the innest…

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The Verge Takes a Swipe at Performancism

The Verge Takes a Swipe at Performancism

Here’s a quick one from Josh Encinias:

When the journalism market bottomed out in 2008, many writers—discouraged and broke—gave up on their careers. But a few years later click-bait journalism pumped life into the industry, and it’s still riding that wave. Measuring clicks may help with advertising, but a writer stuck on their deliverables become “traffic whores,” according to The Verge.

From “If Popular Books Had Clickbait Titles” on CollegeHumor.com

Last month, the American Journalism Review reported that The Verge’s editing team does not share clicks and traffic data with their writers.

“We used to show the writers and editors traffic, and told…

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Another Week Ends: Robots, Children, Busybodies, Grocery Store Flowcharts, Self-Hating Memories, Money-Burning Radio, Noah Dissent and Eight-Year-Old Guitar

Another Week Ends: Robots, Children, Busybodies, Grocery Store Flowcharts, Self-Hating Memories, Money-Burning Radio, Noah Dissent and Eight-Year-Old Guitar

 A quick update: we had some trouble with the Kindle version of The Mockingbird Devotional, but it’s now available here. It’s been tested with Kindle Fire and should work for older Kindles, too – Paperwhite compatibility is a little dubious (if there are problems, let us know so we can gripe to Amazon) – and it should work for iPad/iPhone and Android, too. 

1. The robots are coming: it’s a major upheaval we’ll see in the next few years, and one that’s flown relatively under the radar. So many avenues for exploring how we’ll relate to them, how they’ll change things – surrogate…

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Lifelogging Mediocrity and The Quantified Self

Lifelogging Mediocrity and The Quantified Self

They’re calling 2014 “The Year of the Wearable” in the tech world. Love or hate Google glass, it seems as if wearable tech is in the future- if not for us, then perhaps for our kids. Smart watches want to replace your smart phone. Smart wristbands want to track all your steps and exercise movements. Over 100 apps exist to quantify the quality of your sleep. There’s even a tiny camera that you can clip to your shirt pocket that takes photos every five seconds and uploads the photos to your social network of choice. It used to be that…

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Play to Order and the Gamification of Parenting

Play to Order and the Gamification of Parenting

One of the most difficult and awkward things about being a youth minister was billing the events we would organize. We would tell kids about how much fun or profound something would be, hoping they would come, and we wouldn’t be lying. We knew the retreat/camp/outing would be a great time; they always were. But the second those words escaped your mouth (“the most fun you’ll ever have! the trip of a lifetime!”), they rang hollow. You could see it in the looks on the faces of whomever you were addressing. How fun could something be if you had to…

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Another Week Ends: Amy Chua’s Three Traits for Success, Nietzsche’s Subversion of Atheism, Why Fun Is Fun, The Eighth-Grade Ubermensch, Dostoevsky’s Internet Anxiety and Lena Dunham’s Eden

Another Week Ends: Amy Chua’s Three Traits for Success, Nietzsche’s Subversion of Atheism, Why Fun Is Fun, The Eighth-Grade Ubermensch, Dostoevsky’s Internet Anxiety and Lena Dunham’s Eden

1. What happens when you combine an unshakeable superiority complex with deep insecurity? Probably a nervous breakdown in mid-life, or Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan. But Amy Chua (of “Tiger Mother” fame) asks us to guess again. The real answer is… success.

For those unfamiliar with her work on hyper-controlling parenting (using that adjective as value-neutrally as possible), it’s ruffled our feathers before. And her new book on success – with its threefold foundation of superiority, insecurity, and impulse control – promises to do so again, ht ER:

Some have denounced the book as racist. This loaded term is often bandied about in discussions about culture…

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NYC Preview: The Passion of the Childish Gambino: Online Honesty and Instagram Authenticity

NYC Preview: The Passion of the Childish Gambino: Online Honesty and Instagram Authenticity

Mockingbird has been around since 2008, and the earliest post we have on the subject of Social Media is 2009, in which we studied the phenomenon of getting busted on Facebook for real-life lies.  In the five years since that post, we certainly haven’t lost our fascination with the subject- it’s been one of our favorite hobbies to put the world’s social life under the microscope and view our favorite themes in action. Facebook users (for 10 years now!) are cultivating identities to be liked instead of being honest. Selfies are the new living room portraits, carefully framed to show the…

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What Would Jesus Tweet? The Gospel in the 21st Century (Conference Recordings!)

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An enormous thank you to all the fantastic people at St Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church in Louisville, KY, who made the What Would Jesus Tweet mini-conference possible earlier this month! What a privilege it was to meet so many new friends; the warmth and graciousness of the welcome we received was nothing short of overwhelming. To read a (very generous!) re-cap of the event, go here. The recordings are now available, both on our Resources page and here, in the order in which they were given. Click on the talk titles to download, or on the players below to listen:

Talk 1: What Would Jesus Tweet? – David Zahl


Talk 2: Everybody’s Anxious, Nobody’s Bored – David Zahl


Everything New Is Moralism Again – The Rev. Jacob Smith


The Psychology of SalvationDr. Eric Johnson


Talk 3: What We Talk About When We Talk About Freedom and Closing Q&A – David Zahl and Jacob Smith


Another Week Ends: Negatively Positive Thinking, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Love and Friendship, Fun Families, Facebook Sociology and Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories

Another Week Ends: Negatively Positive Thinking, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Love and Friendship, Fun Families, Facebook Sociology and Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories

1. Think positive! The New Yorker this week pushes back against the “think I can” trend, famously espoused by Thomas the Train – and even in adult media, too. While it’s certain that confidence often sometimes helps (Seahawks defensiveback Richard Sherman self-imputed the title “best cornerback in the league” and subsequently grew into it), it tends to break down in the long run, ht TB:

According to a great deal of research, positive fantasies may lessen your chances of succeeding. In one experiment, the social psychologists Gabriele Oettingen and Doris Mayer asked eighty-three German students to rate the extent to which they “experienced positive thoughts, images,…

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Online-Only Love Affairs (in a Utopian Dystopia)

Online-Only Love Affairs (in a Utopian Dystopia)

Last weekend, a few of us descended on Louisville, KY, where we were invited to discuss the, er, age-old question “What Would Jesus Tweet?”. It was a wonderful time (Thank you, STIF!) with a terrific group of people, and by and large I was pleased with how the presentations went. We’ll have the files available soon. Still, I was reminded of how tricky the subject of technology and social media actually is. It’s just so incredibly easy to come of as a Luddite! When you describe the emotional and spiritual fallout that certain modes of technology are catalyzing, no matter…

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Man’s Prosthetic God: Technologies of Glory and the Still-Present Need for Salvation

Man’s Prosthetic God: Technologies of Glory and the Still-Present Need for Salvation

This timely reflection comes to us from Brandon Bennett:

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote some thoughts on identity and freedom, prompted in part by Apple’s iPad Air commercial. So to continue the theme of ads-from-tech-companies, I thought I might also offer just some brief comments on Microsoft’s ad from the Super Bowl, which is begging for religious reflection. (If you happened to be grabbing some wings from the kitchen while it aired on Super Bowl Sunday, be sure to watch it below.)

Here are the lines from the video:

“What is technology? What can it do? How far can we go?…

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Mockingbird at the Movies: The Shared Loneliness of Her

Mockingbird at the Movies: The Shared Loneliness of Her

This comes from Emily Stubbs:

Spike Jonze’s newest film, Her, is beautiful, provocative, and, above all, relevant. Man (Theodore Twombley, played by Joaquin Phoenix) falls for highly evolved, Siri-like Operating System next door (Samantha, voice played by none other than Scarlett Johansson). Given its subject matter, the film speaks to many of the fantasies that we place in technology. In this modern era known as the digital age, not only is technology going to cure cancer but also my loneliness. Our desire for deep emotional connection—the new driving force behind technology—culminates in the creation of the OS that, at least for…

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Killing Time: The Law of Facebook Obsession

Killing Time: The Law of Facebook Obsession

We’ve certainly said a lot about Facebook already. See here, here, and here for some fine examples. In the past week, though, some of you will have no doubt encountered Time Magazine’s new “Facebook-time-wasted calculator” (they didn’t give it a sexy name, and that’s the best I could do). This app analyzes the activity on your Facebook account and returns an estimate as to how many days, weeks or, in some cases, months you have been “wasting” on Facebook. All of which, of course, assumes that we would all be doing something more productive with our time.

I know people who are leaving Facebook because of…

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