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Addiction

Something Missing (in Recovery Services)

Something Missing (in Recovery Services)

Compulsion is brutal.

But the last decade has seen a huge cultural effort to remove spiritual death from the tragedy of addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous was, and largely still is, the model for treatment, but a Higher Power does not play well in the wave of commercial exploitation of “recovery services.”

Squeaky clean, dead serious ads put coifed “addicts” and similarly serious “therapists” in front of us. With all the sincerity of “ethical” car sales shills, the very worst in any of us has the same cure as a dirty floor: buy me. There is a new, aggressive PR explosion everywhere, which loudly…

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Freedom Isn’t Free

Freedom Isn’t Free

Another glimpse into our Food & Drink Issue. This essay is written by Connor Gwin. 

It is a funny thing, getting sober in seminary. I spent years discerning my call to ordained ministry and answering questions from committee after committee, only to find myself in front of the mirror in my seminary dorm room. It was the morning after a blur of a day spent drinking to celebrate St. Patrick. The celebration ended in a blackout, as they seemed to more and more, and there I stood in front of my bathroom mirror. I gazed into my own eyes and spoke…

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Hallelujah Anyway: Anne Lamott’s Latest on Rediscovering Mercy

Hallelujah Anyway: Anne Lamott’s Latest on Rediscovering Mercy

I have loved Anne Lamott since I read her first memoir, Traveling Mercies, when I was in law school. In a world where I was, quite literally, surrounded by law, I heard grace in her words, and it was the drink I didn’t even know I was thirsty for. Later, Lamott’s Operating Instructions, her memoir about her son’s first year, prepared me for motherhood in a way that all of the What to Expect books failed to do.

Naturally, I wanted to share my enthusiasm for my favorite lay theologian with my friends, some of whom scoffed at Lamott’s personal history: how could they…

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Can Love Survive Addiction and Co-Dependency?

This is a serious honor. We’ve received permission from filmmaker Kurt Neale to post his incredible new documentary, Ask: Can Love Survive Addiction and Co-Dependency?, here on Mockingbird. As you’ll see, he and his crew have given us an enormous gift, not just to those of us who’ve experienced the fearful realities of addiction and co-dependency, but to anyone who has drawn breath in the world described in Romans 7. Not to mention anyone who’s come into contact with what Andrew Sullivan calls “this generation’s AIDS crisis”. You could almost call it Grace in Addiction: The Movie. That is, the whole thing brims with honesty and humanity and compassion and, yes, real hope–the Polyphonic Spree is just icing on the cake.

Naturally, the film contains mature subject matter and language. Viewer discretion is advised.

P.S. As you’ll see, this is a work of art ideally suited for discussion. If you’re interested, I know Kurt and co are open to arranging screenings around the country. You can contact him via his website.

P.P.S. If it all sounds a tad on the heavy-side, fast forward to minute 1:19 for a hilarious Easter egg.

Sin + Grace + Sin + Grace = Holiness?

Sin + Grace + Sin + Grace = Holiness?

Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts, recently published this article about her conviction to give up wine cold turkey. When I read it, I immediately experienced two conflicting emotions:

Glad it’s her who gave up the hooch and not me.
It is possible I should give this article a second read.

Bessey reveals in So I Quit Drinking that she had been a lover and consumer of wine throughout adulthood, and it “never bothered [her] in the least,” until it did.

…when it comes to conviction, I have found the Spirit to be gentle but relentless.

Change and transformation is an ongoing…

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Love

The Title of the Show Is Love

At this point, Love is a show that can do no wrong in my eyes. I love that it moves slowly. I love that the characters have jobs, and that they seem to spend a decent amount of time there. Mostly, though, I love that no matter how low it goes—no matter how awkward it gets, no matter how many bad decisions the characters make—I know that some shade of redemption is close at hand. It is, after all, called Love.

I remember watching the first episode last year. My wife and I were looking for lighter fare, something charming. The promos…

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Personal Inventory: Fearless (Temporis Fila) by Kaveh Akbar

Personal Inventory: Fearless (Temporis Fila) by Kaveh Akbar

The following poem evokes AA’s fourth step (“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”) and the gravity of apologies. This is from Kaveh Akbar’s chapbook/collection, Portrait of the Alcoholic.

Personal Inventory: Fearless (Temporis Fila)

“I know scarcely one feature by which man can be distinguished from apes, if it be not that all the apes have a gap between their fangs and their other teeth.”
– Carolus Linnaeus

A gap, then,
a slot for fare.

I used my arms to learn two,
my fingers to learn ten.

My grandfather kept an atlas so old
there was a blank spot in the middle of Africa.

I knew a girl…

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From The Onion: Alcoholic’s Plan For Turning Life Around Doesn’t Involve Getting Sober

America’s favorite news source, on point yet again. Mercy mercy me:

SAVANNAH, GA—Realizing something needed to change before it was too late, local alcoholic Darren Weller laid out a plan for turning his life around Monday that had absolutely nothing to do with getting sober. “Today’s the day that I finally clean up my act and start taking the steps I need to better myself,” said the visibly intoxicated Weller to his fellow bar patrons, outlining a series of dramatic steps aimed at improving his physical and mental health that will in no way interfere with his crippling addiction to alcohol. “No more excuses. It’s time I went back to school and finished my degree. No more pizza and beer every night. I’ll probably live five more years just by having salad and beer. Who knows, I might even start getting a run in every night before I hit the bars. Yeah, I really feel like this is a new beginning.” At press time, Weller had passed out on his bar stool, already making good on his plan to get to sleep at a more reasonable hour.

Lay Down Your Smartphone and Follow Me? (Just a Second…)

Lay Down Your Smartphone and Follow Me? (Just a Second…)

I owe you an apology. Or at least a confession. Nine months after switching to a flip phone, and about six months after making a big stink about it, I went back to a smart one. I’m not proud.

What got me in the end wasn’t Internet itself. I stand by what I wrote about the cost, both personal and communal, of non-stop web access. I probably undersold it. What made me, er, flip back was two things: music and texts. They were the rationalization, in any case.

I realized about a month into the experiment that I wasn’t willing to live…

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Mr. Robot Wants to Save the World

Mr. Robot Wants to Save the World

“Watching a group of young people rebel against the one percent — these are not new ideas,” Portia Doubleday, a star of the hit show Mr. Robot, explained to an interviewer. “They’re things that as a society we’re all thinking but don’t know how to tackle. He’s just relating to what so many of us are wondering, but don’t say, and don’t have a platform to,” she said, referencing the show’s talented creator/writer/director, Sam Esmail. We’ve seen this whole young rebel thing done, she’s right, but any good iteration usually has something fresh to communicate, and Mr. Robot is no different….

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AA’s Fourth Step: Unpacking the Boxes of Resentment and Love

AA’s Fourth Step: Unpacking the Boxes of Resentment and Love

The following is taken from Chapter Four of Mockingbird’s most practical publication to date, Grace in Addiction: The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everybody. See pages 83-92.

“Forgive everyone your sins.” – Jack Kerouac

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?…First take the plank out of your own eye.” – Matthew 7:3-5

Just as the Twelve Steps started with a recognition of our powerlessness over addiction, so too the 4th Step encourages a brutally honest self-examination of our life on a broader scale. The Big Book describes this step…

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David Feherty: The Addict Who Is a “Plaid Jacket at a Funeral”

David Feherty: The Addict Who Is a “Plaid Jacket at a Funeral”

If you watch only “Major” golf on TV like I do, it means that you limit your golf viewing to the four Majors (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, PGA). My favorite day among the majors is coming up Sunday. The final round of the US Open always falls on Father’s Day–the perfect license for a full throttle veg-out session on the sofa. I’m not a golfer, but I find the Majors compelling, mostly when I hear the affable Irish commentary of David Feherty. He doesn’t sound like the other (rightfully ridiculed) dime-a-dozen commentators who speak in hush tones lest they…

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