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The Father's Day Conundrum

The Father’s Day Conundrum

It’s not much of a secret in church circles that Mother’s Day is one of the best attended Sundays of the year, Father’s Day one of the least. The third Sunday in June is what’s known as a “low Sunday,” when the regular preacher often gives up the pulpit to a subordinate. If you happened to be in the pews yesterday, you may have even heard it referenced or joked about. What gives?

The dime store explanation goes something like this: moms want the family to be together on Mother’s Day and tend to value spiritual life more to begin with,…

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Comma, Grace

Comma, Grace

A wonderful, grammatical reflection, by Andrew Taylor-Troutman:

I was taking a mid-afternoon break at my favorite coffee shop. The brew was dark, organic, and fair trade; the scone, buttery and soft with little treasures of cranberries buried beneath the surface; and the people-watching, exquisite. Take the guy with the cryptic tattoo on the back of his neck. I was trying to crack the code when, just a couple of tables away, a young woman exclaimed to her coffee partner, “And I was like, comma, you just don’t get it!”

What exactly was not gotten I will never know, for she dropped her…

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Playing with the Enemy – Jamin Warren

This wonderful talk from our recent conference in New York City features Jamin Warren, founder of videogame arts and culture company Kill Screen. Below, Jamin speaks about how fun and games help us cross the great divide:

Playing with the Enemy – Jamin Warren from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

The Like Button – Mary Karr

From Tropic of Squalor, the latest collection of poems by former Mockingbird conference speaker Mary Karr.

The Like Button

Back in the before time
those days of amber
desire was an inner
and often ugly thing.
And if we wanted,
my brothers and hungry
sisters, we were oft flung
far from each other. Think
tin-cans-and-string far,
plum-colored-smoke-signal
far. No web wove the pinpoints
of ourselves into a map. No
upward thumb could be pressed
to say yes or its detractor: no.
Soon, we may each evolve
a glow button maybe mid brow,
so as we pass each other we can vote
praise or scorn to light up yay
or nay on a passing stranger’s face
a thumb. At first the young celebs
with asses you can serve drinks off
will rack up zillions of votes
till we tire of such bodacious butts,
and then the smart, the brave,
the strong will take their turns,
but what if we start to like,
say, the stout, the schlubby
neighbor raking leaves or that
subway sleeper who’s woven
yellow crime scene tape into
a jock strap—Police Line: Do
Not Cross—till all the undeodorized,
the unloved all their lives, start to feel
their foreheads blip
and blip as it becomes hip
to love the oddest, the most
perilously lonely. Imagine
the forever dispossessed
transforming as they feel the thumb
of yes impress itself
into the very flesh.

The Best of Us, "The Americans," Might Be Russian…

The Best of Us, “The Americans,” Might Be Russian…

What’s more important? Figuring out who we serve? Or figuring out whose we are?

True confession: I’m not moved much to action or opinion regarding our current political landscape. (This is not a political post; for that to be so, it would presuppose that I much care.) Mid-term primaries in our troubled times don’t interest me. I may or may not have cared to vote this past Tuesday here in Georgia. I deeply appreciate freedom, but it has never been my highest value. Proud of my country? Yes. Do I root for America in the World Cup and the Olympics? Absolutely!…

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Change is the Worst (and the Best?)

Change is the Worst (and the Best?)

The months of May and June—well a solid portion of 2018, for that matter—have been marked by a whole lot of change. My sister graduated from high school, making my parents empty nesters. Dear friends and roommates have moved away. New roommates are moving in. And that’s just the beginning.

I hate change, like really hate it. As a creature of habit and lover of routines who is severely lacking in spontaneity, change is the enemy, and I typically don’t handle it well—God bless my parents for graciously answering their phones to listen to me process it all. For the past…

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Summer Bucket Lists and Taking a Seat at the Table

Summer Bucket Lists and Taking a Seat at the Table

I ended the school year a few days ago by high-fiving my seniors au-revoir at their graduation and have now set about making lists of #allthethings I hope to do with my girls this summer. Enter: the Summer Bucket List. In sharing my ideas with friends and building said list, I was motivated by two things.

An authentic hope for my girls to have a fun summer, one characterized by laziness and rest as well as active play, adventure, and unstructured time with Mama and Dada.
A tangible way for me to literally check things off and accumulate motherhood points to win…

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The Role of Art (Or, the Limitations of Self-Help) in Life and Work

The Role of Art (Or, the Limitations of Self-Help) in Life and Work

This one comes to us from Mark Casper.

Recently I came across an article in The New Yorker that nearly bowled me over. It’s called Improving Ourselves to Death by Alexandra Schwartz, and it thoroughly outlines the negative consequences of living in a “self-improvement culture.” You may remember the post that appeared on Mockingbird earlier this year about it.

At one point, Schwartz quotes a line from British journalist Will Storr, author of Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing to Us. “We’re living in an age of perfectionism, and perfection is the idea that kills,” Storr writes. “People are suffering and dying under…

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The Things We Think And Do Not Say

The Things We Think And Do Not Say

I operated as if there’d be a verdict. An easy answer. A story. I operated as if we were setting the tone for the rest of our lives. It did not occur to me that we could simply muddle through. Change things later. Forgive ourselves.

I was a freshman in college when Jerry Maguire came out, and I remember watching through my fingers the scene in which he wrote his explosive mission statement (NOT memo) and wondering why he was getting so excited about interrupting the status quo. What’s wrong with just doing your job and flying under the radar? I thought….

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A Great Insight

A Great Insight

I imagine it’s a common experience: Whether in Bible studies, or from the pulpit, or in one-on-one “discipling” relationships, Christian ministers often feel pressured to come up with something genius, something that will knock the spiritual socks off whoever it is they’re ministering to. If you say just the right thing, maybe you can save or convert or help this person.

And I have to admit, on this website, the quandary’s similar. When we begin writing, often our first (or ever-present) concern has to do with saying something new and brilliant. “But has someone already said this?” With eleven years under…

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Alone Together In Our Third Places

Alone Together In Our Third Places

The following was written by Rachel Gaffin.

It’s 9 o’clock on a Tuesday night. Breezy pop-punk spills out of the speaker system of the coffee shop I share with thirteen other people. All but two sit in front of laptops; most are plugged into headphones. The man across from me reads a purple tome titled Theories of Truth. We avoid eye contact.

In this silent yet soundtracked space, people politely vie for real estate near the outlets, getting up only to go to the bathroom or maybe to order a second latte. In short, the perfect place for me to write. And…

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For Those We Love, A Healthy Dose of Pessimism

For Those We Love, A Healthy Dose of Pessimism

Alain de Botton explains why we are cruelest to the ones we are closest to. Most of it has to do with the fact that we have such devastatingly high expectations for them to meet our devastatingly deep neediness. A section on “Pessimism” from The School of Life’s book, Relationships. 

No one can disappoint and upset us as much as the person we’re in a relationship with–for of no one do we have higher hopes. It’s because we are so dangerously optimistic that we call them a c***, a s***head, or a weakling. The intensity of the disappointment and frustration is dependent…

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