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From The Onion: Toddler Unsettled By Whatever Possessed Her To Bite Friend’s Face

Pretty funny rejoinder to their classic, “New Study Reveals Most Children Unrepentant Sociopaths”. Read the full thing here:

614Ob8PCQNL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_WESTON, CT—Visibly shocked and repulsed by her own behavior as she sat questioning the type of person she is deep down, unsettled 2-year-old Ellie Ritter admitted to reporters that she had no idea what compelled her to bite her friend on the face Thursday. “I honestly don’t know what came over me. I know Jacob took the train I was playing with, but I usually handle that kind of thing okay—but this time I…I bit him,” said a shaken and bewildered Ritter, sitting wide-eyed on a floor mat at her daycare… “I mean, this is Jacob we’re talking about. He’s my friend, my playmate. And I just went straight for his forehead like an animal. Jesus, what is wrong with me?” At press time, the unnerved toddler was staring uneasily down at her trembling, fingerpaint-covered hands and contemplating what other horrors she was capable of.

Thou Shalt Never Feel Bad: Inside Out for the Ivy League

Thou Shalt Never Feel Bad: Inside Out for the Ivy League

Sadness is having a cultural moment, and that makes me happy. Much of this is thanks to Pixar’s Inside Out, that rare film which deserves all the success and acclaim being heaped upon it.

There are any number of reasons to laud the movie, as DP pointed out a couple weeks ago. Its artistic merits are beyond question, but so are those of, say, The Box Trolls (seriously!). What makes Inside Out so remarkable is its message. Pete Docter, et al, are saying something that strikes the almost impossible balance of timely, courageous, and, well, true. Which is that sadness, grief,…

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Gospel According to Pixar: Inside Out

Gospel According to Pixar: Inside Out

The reviews for Pixar’s latest, Inside Out, are not just hype. I went to see the movie on Tuesday night, and I’m still processing different parts of it, which to me is always the sign of a goodie. It’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from Pixar: appealing to all ages – wholesome, charming fun for kids and adults but still emotionally rich and thought-provoking.

Here are two things that I thought the movie did really well and stick out as reasons to go see it: the wonderful, gospel-infused treatment of memory and the strong examples of self-sacrificial love.

Before I get…

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Thou Shalt Prepare for Baby: Law and Grace in Pregnancy for Husband and Wife

Thou Shalt Prepare for Baby: Law and Grace in Pregnancy for Husband and Wife

Tasha Genck Morton is married to Adam Morton and serves as Associate Pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster, PA. They are due in July.

Adam: I have a confession to make: I have read exactly zero pregnancy or baby books. Occasionally I will pick one up from its resting place somewhere near the living room couch, flip through, and set it down again. Tasha, who is due to give birth to our first some time next month, has done more than her share of reading. I am not utterly ignorant–I did attend some classes with her, and can correctly pick…

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Trapped in The Corrections: Family Life in Franzen and Boyhood

Trapped in The Corrections: Family Life in Franzen and Boyhood

Back in March, my Dad took a week away from work, and we spent spring break together in Southwest Florida. It was awesome. One of our oft-repeated tasks, along with eating fish and chips and baking in the sun, was combing through the nearest Barnes and Noble looking for beach reading. Dad happened to have Mom on the phone as we perused one night, so he told her what we were considering buying and asked for suggestions. She offered a few titles but finished with, “definitely don’t read The Corrections.”

I came across a hardcover copy of the Jonathan Franzen novel for…

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Hiding in the Bathroom: Why Inspired Parenting Will Kill You – Sarah Condon

Happy Memorial Day! While those of us in Cville catch our breath, we thought we’d share the second video from our recent conference in Tyler, TX, Sarah’s fabulous (and hilarious) session on parenting:

Hiding in the Bathroom: Why Inspired Parenting Will Kill You – Sarah Condon from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Grace in Admissions

Grace in Admissions

In the mid-day haze following a 4 AM After-Prom chaperoning experience at an arcade, I’ve been reflecting on the year before and the year ahead. Perhaps this is what four hours of go-carts, laser tag, and skee-ball encourage you to do. More likely, it just happens to be May. In the world of education, this is my New Year’s Eve, my time for reflection and resolutions.

As a college counselor at an independent school, late May is especially conducive to rumination. The seniors who once (rightfully) complained about the roller coaster ride of the college admissions process are…

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How Louis CK Received a Massive Gift

How Louis CK Received a Massive Gift

Some refreshingly counter-cultural thoughts about identity, kids, and self-fulfillment from America’s favorite comedian, courtesy of a recent conversation with NPR’s Terry Gross:

C.K: When I first got married and had kids, I thought, you know – I had some friends that I played poker with on Mondays, and I thought the poker game on Mondays is – that’s the water line. Like, if I don’t make that game, I’m losing something. I’m losing something if I don’t make it to that game. It means I’m letting go of my youth, I’m letting go of my manhood – all of things –…

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Grace Is Play: Our Magazine Interview with Nimi Wariboko

Grace Is Play: Our Magazine Interview with Nimi Wariboko

Another free look at our Work and Play Issue. Take our word for it, though…it’s better in print! 

One of the great theological books we discovered last year was Nimi Wariboko’s The Pentecostal Principle, a book which unpacks how the Holy Spirit creates the capacity for new beginnings in human life and communities. He views true religion as play, because it goes beyond the instrumentalism (do this to achieve that) of the Law to make room for spontaneity. According to Wariboko, our ordinary world is constantly open to the Spirit’s disruption with new initiatives, feelings, experiences, communities, and patterns of thought….

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You’ll Always Be a Part of Billy Joel

You’ll Always Be a Part of Billy Joel

For the first few years I sang our son lullabies, I was very intentional about him only hearing church hymns. We’d rock to “Lift High the Cross” or “Let us Break Bread Together.” Sometimes, if I was feeling really crazy, I’d throw in the Doxology. I know, I’m intense.

My aims were good. I wanted the music of the church to be a part of his earliest memories. And what better way to do it than in those sweet moments just before bedtime?

And then, at around the age of 2, he started to rebel. It was the Christmas season that did…

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NYC Breakout Preview: Faith through Imagination

This begins our series of previews for our Mockingbird NYC Conference this April. It comes from the one and only Melina Smith.  

Until a character becomes a personality it cannot be believed. Without personality, the character may do funny or interesting things, but unless people are able to identify themselves with the character, its actions will seem unreal. And without personality, a story cannot ring true to the audience. – Walt Disney

We can all recall being small people and being captured through imagination. For me this experience came through vivid stories and films my father shared with me as a child. I can honestly say faith did not come through Sunday School. I can recall being disappointed in the presentation of your average Bible story– they came across as stale, rigid, and lacking in any creativity. As a child I preferred being in the big church; it was there, at the very least,that I heard more compelling and imaginative readings of the Bible. Sunday School felt like a threat–a boring one.

Walt-Disney-and-Mickey-Mouse-at-Disneyland-walter-e-disney-6626898-400-512Fast forward to 2007 when I find myself in the basement of the church, working with a couple of volunteers to create Sunday School programing. I call upon my own childhood, remembering the felt board Jesus, watching Salty, and reading through the KJV. I knew going forward we would not be using materials I grew up with. As our small team continued, we bought curriculums, and worked with Godly Play, the programs we used were good, but I found something was missing.

Why is it that in the Christian subculture we miss our opportunity to capture the imaginations of our youngest members during the time when its development is MOST vivid? As children we are not bound to what’s “real”–we are open to story. Take Walt Disney for instance: you could argue the world of Disney is its very own religious sphere. Disney said, “Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.” He was onto something here. Disney understood the power or imagination, he knew how to communicate the impossible with the hope of plausibility.

Children and grown-ups are captivated by the strength of a story. Sure, the Bible may not include singing lobsters, but each story includes enough drama and risk to capture any listener, if the story is told well.

Join us for “Faith Through Imagination” at the 2015 Mockingbird conference. Jackie DeMarco and I will share how our team has created programing that captures the imaginations of our youngest members. The imagination is the natural way to the heart of our youngest members. Can you imagine creation, the stormy story of Noah, and Jonah’s time in the belly of a whale? Children can so long as the story is told well. Join Jackie and I as we share our process, our vision, and hope for sharing the Gospel through story.

Every child is born blessed with a vivid imagination. But just as a muscle grows flabby with disuse, so the bright imagination of a child pales in later years if he ceases to exercise it.

My Relationship With God Is Better Than Ever

My Relationship With God Is Better Than Ever

(This essay was originally published in issue 3 of The Mockingbird. All issues and subscriptions, including issue 4 which ships tomorrow, are available available here).

“We can permit ourselves to be more romantic than the romanticists and more humanistic than the humanists. But we must be more precise.” —Karl Barth, “The Christian’s Place in Society”

image courtesy of Lutheran Satire

Every recess for eight years, I was picked last on the team for two-hand-touch football. The turning point came in the ninth grade, when recess was replaced by study hall.

But, before that, there was another turning point I had blundered right past: the opportunity…

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