Yesterday, we revealed the bottom half of the best ten films of 2014, according to me. I’ll skip the pleasantries and jump right in. Here are my top five films of 2014.
5. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Lots of dollying, panning, and surface fade to reveal shots create the illusion that Alejandro Iñárritu’s Birdman was filmed in one, long continuous take. Which is not true. Howbeit, the film is made up of many continuous one shot scenes, sometimes lasting up to ten minutes long, and it’s all done, essentially, at one location. That’s tough to do. Not a lot of directors can do it, or do…
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Simply put, which is the best way to put it, 2014 was a pleasing year for the avid movie-goer. Now that it’s nearing its end, I thought it fitting to give the Mockingbird reader a list of personal favorites in a two-part top ten list. Disclaimer: Alas, I am not yet a member of the Academy. I do not get the year’s best films delivered to my doorstep free of charge. I will admit, there are many (presumably) good films that I have just have not seen yet, because, well, movies cost money. But here are the bottom five of Joe Nooft’s personal, paid for, top…
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Another phenomenal year on the small screen, and thankfully not one where we can come even close to being comprehensive. Series that’ve gotten raves that we’re waiting to binge on would be The Good Wife, The Americans, and You’re the Worst. Here’s our best shot at rounding up what we’ve watched this year. I had some serious help with this (ht McD, EKR, HE).
Top Twelve Television Series of 2014
12. Parenthood. The Bravermans didn’t make it terribly easy to keep watching this year–what with the Joel and Julia debacle–but even after four-plus years, the show can still bring the waterworks like…
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As I’ve gotten older (read: lazier), I’ve had seemingly less time to scour the internet for hours for new music. I think I’ve consumed less and less music each year after college to the point where I always feel the need to play catch-up this time of year when websites start publishing their end of year lists and roundups. I spent a lot of time in 2014 though just trying to enjoy the albums I enjoyed again and again without the need to seek out and explore all the albums that I was “supposed to listen to” (this is not…
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The following piece was recently shared with Mockingbird. The “librarian,” whose name is not Paul Zahl (seriously!), has given us permission to post it here.
Note from the librarian: This reading diary, penned by LeVar Burton, was recently discovered in the archives of a theological library. The manuscript, handwritten on napkins and folded away inside an old volume of George Herbert’s poetry, suggests that Burton found gold at the end of the (Reading) Rainbow.
[Books are] a children’s game which God has given me in order that the time till his appearing should not be long for me.”
~ Johann Georg Hamann
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Last year’s gift guide was so popular that we’ve decided to make it an annual tradition. Apologies in advance for once again not straying too far from our books/movies/music wheelhouse.
For Those About to Host a Christmas Party: A Very Love and Mercy Christmas by Sam Bush and Kathryn Caine
For Your Friend Who Is Always Complaining About How Bad the Sermons Are at Their Church: Sermons of Grace by John Zahl
For Anyone Looking to Spice Up Their Office or Bring Their Inner Child to Work: An assortment of Funko’s “Reaction Figures”. Recommendations include Chunk from The Goonies, Zoe from Firefly, Kane…
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Thanks so much to volunteers, speakers, and attendants of our 2014 NYC Conference! Recordings and videos should be coming soon, but for now, here’s our conference book table, which doubles as a recommended reading list from Mbird. Titles with asterisks are either new or new to us:
-W.H. Auden, The Dyer’s Hand and Other Essays
-Saul Bellow, Henderson the Rain King (Penguin Classics)*
-T.S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party
-George Herbert, Herbert Poems
-Mary Karr, Lit: A Memoir (P.S.)
-Mary Karr, Sinners Welcome: Poems
-C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold
-Sally Lloyd-Jones, Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale*
-Sally Lloyd-Jones, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing
-Sally Lloyd-Jones, Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story
-Reynolds Price, A Whole New Life: An Illness and a Healing
-J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
-Oscar Wilde, De Profundis: The Ballad of Reading Gaol and Other Writings
-Thornton Wilder, Theophilus North: A Novel
-Christian Wiman, Every Riven Thing: Poems
CHRISTIANITY / THEOLOGY
-Oswald Bayer, Martin Luther’s Theology: A Contemporary Interpretation
-Todd Brewer and David Zahl, The Gospel According to Pixar
-Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace
-Robert Farrar Capon, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus
-Gerhard Ebeling, Luther: An Introduction to His Thought
-Gerhard Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518 (Theology)
-Gerhard Forde, Where God Meets Man
-Bo Giertz, Hammer of God
-John D. Koch and Todd Brewer, Comfortable Words: Essays in Honor of Paul F. M. Zahl*
-Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians (Luther Classic Commentaries)
-Martin Luther, On the Bondage of the Will
-Brennan Manning, All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir
-William McDavid, Eden and Afterward: A Mockingbird Guide to Genesis*
-Jim McNeely, The Romance of Grace
-Sean Norris, Judgment and Love
-Ashley Null, Thomas Cranmer’s Doctrine of Repentance: Renewing the Power to Love
-Ethan Richardson, This American Gospel: Public Radio Parables and the Grace of God
-Ethan Richardson and Sean Norris, The Mockingbird Devotional: Good News for Today (and Every Day)
-Ethan Richardson, The Mockingbird (Magazine)*
-Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
-Tullian Tchividjian, Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free
-Tullian Tchividjian, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World
-Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer
-Paul F.M. Zahl, Grace in Addiction: The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everybody
-Paul F.M. Zahl, The Merciful Impasse
-Paul F.M. Zahl, PZ’s Panopticon: An Off-the-Wall Guide to World Religion*
-Paul F.M. Zahl, Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life
-Paul F.M. Zahl, Who Will Deliver Us?: The Present Power of the Death of Christ
-Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom
-Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Vintage)
-Tim Kreider, We Learn Nothing: Essays*
-Dorothy Martyn, Beyond Deserving: Children, Parents, and Responsibility Revisited
-Walker Percy, Signposts in a Strange Land: Essays
-Adam Phillips, Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life*
-Marilynne Robinson, The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought
-Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts
-Sam Bush and Kathryn Caine, Love and Mercy*
-High Street Hymns, High Street Hymns
-High Street Hymns, Love Shall Be Our Token
I’m not a cultured enough moviegoer to give you a list of the best films of the year; my only qualification for a “good” movie is if I can watch it in 3-D. I’m nowhere near up to speed on current music to talk about the best artists or albums of 2013. If you want to know the top books of the 12th or 16th century, well then, I’m your girl. The only books I’ve read this year are theological ones, mostly Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther. But books of 2013? I haven’t got a clue. Let’s not even talk…
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In keeping with our year-end tradition, here is a list of the top Mockingbird theology books of 2013 – and I must say it’s been quite the year! For fun, I’ve categorized them according to the most fitting high school stereotypes.
The Jocks (Books by Superstar Scholars)
Justification Reconsidered: Rethinking A Pauline Theme by Stephen Westerholm – A great introduction to the recent debate on the doctrine of Justification (specifically the New Perspective on Paul). Westerholm looks at several prominent figures in the field (Stendahl, Dunn, Wright, Campbell) and provides a stirring defense of a “Lutheran” Paul.
Justification and the Gospel: Understanding the…
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Before the clock strikes 2014, we wanted to give you a brief update from the Mockingworld. 2013 was quite a year for our little organization. To name just a few milestones, we hosted our largest conference, produced our most substantial publication, The Mockingbird Devotional, launched The Mockingpulpit Podcast, and overhauled the Resources section on our website. Moreover, our online audience grew by more than 30%, from roughly 380,000 unique visitors in 2012 to over 500,000 in 2013.
We have some great projects on tap for 2014: In addition to our annual Spring in New York City (4/3-5), the Texas conference we postponed this past Fall has officially been rescheduled for 10/17-18, 2014 at St Thomas Episcopal Church in Houston. February is also shaping up to be a busy month, as we help lead the What Would Jesus Tweet? mini-conference in Louisville, KY (2/7-8), and play a significant role again at the Liberate gathering in Ft. Lauderdale, FL (2/20-23).
We could not be more excited about our publications slate for this coming year:
- First and most importantly, late January sees the launch of our brand new print magazine, The Mockingbird! An outlet for longer-form writing and interviews, The Mockingbird will feature the same mix of personal, theological, and cultural reflection (and playfulness) you find on our site. We are so excited about how it’s come together that we are planning on sending free copies of the first issue to everyone on our physical mailing list.
- In time for our April conference, we hope to have both The Fundamentals by Jacob Smith and The Mockingbird Companion to Genesis out. If all goes swimmingly, the summer may even see the release of a companion to Romans as well.
- For real this time: David Zahl is hard at work on an expanded collection of his Mbird pop-culture work, entitled These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty, that should make its debut at the Houston conference in October.
- Finally, stay tuned for an announcement about Kindle versions of Grace in Addiction and The Mockingbird Devotional.
As for our website, aside from keeping the daily content coming, we will be giving the homepage a significant facelift and creating an inviting section for “newcomers.” Suffice it to say, 2014 will not be boring!
How You Can Help
Like any non-profit or ministry, Mockingbird relies on the generosity of individual donors and churches to fund its operations. Our budget for 2014 is $195,000–for info about where the money goes, go here–and two easy ways to help might be:
- Mbird currently has about 55 supporters who give automatically every month, anywhere from $10 to $1000/per month. We would love to see that number increase! To that end, anyone who signs up for monthly giving (any amount) by Jan 10th will receive a complimentary copy of the Mbird publication of their choice. If everyone who reads our site gave even $5/month, we wouldn’t have to think about money ever again!
- Right now there are a handful of churches that support us every year with money from their mission/outreach budgets. Others give via discretionary accounts. If you attend or work at a church that is benefiting from our ministry but maybe hasn’t considered getting behind Mbird “officially” yet, please be our advocate! We’re happy to fill out applications, make presentations, phone calls, offers that can’t be refused, etc – just email us at email@example.com if you have any leads.
To donate to Mockingbird, or to sign up for monthly giving, visit our Support page.
P.S. Earlybird rates for the NYC Conference expire on January 1st!
Here’s what I consumed (and what consumed me) in 2013, a good deal of which has already been covered in embarrassing depth elsewhere on this site.
Favorite Musical Discoveries
1. Phantom of the Paradise – Paul Williams. I’ve always loved Paul Williams for his Muppet (rainbow) connection but never delved too deeply into the recordings he did under his own name. It took ueber-fans Daft Punk roping him in for their new record–and admitting in an interview that PW inspired their helmets–for me to finally take the plunge. Yet as good as some of those albums are, the soundtrack to Brian DePalma’s…
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