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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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Girls Rule the World?

Girls Rule the World?

I saw the original Pitch Perfect on a spring afternoon, taking advantage of a day off work and a child in daycare to indulge in some solo popcorn-eating and foot-tapping in the darkness of a movie theater–one of this introvert’s favorite refuges. Now that this introvert is a mother of two, I watch movies in thirty-minute increments via On Demand from the “refuge” of my bed–a decidedly less interruption-free zone than that inviting theater. Perhaps this is why I so enjoy the movie trailers that I watch on my phone these days during nursing sessions or in stolen/guilt-ridden moments on…

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The Ever-Blurring Line Between Workweek and Weekend

The Ever-Blurring Line Between Workweek and Weekend

As our fourth issue of The Mockingbird makes it way to you, here’s a glimpse at what’s headed your way, the Opener from yours truly.

In an upcoming 2015 documentary called The Land, Vermont filmmaker Erin Davis is capturing the nature of play and risk-taking on an unusual playground in North Wales. The one-acre plot of vacant property, called “The Land,” is known as an “adventure playground,” which allows children of all ages the free space to roll down hills in old tires, to light fires in rusty oil drums, and build forts in trees with hammers and nails. As for…

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Nationwide Law

Nationwide Law

It’s the day after the Super Bowl, and if you’re dragging yourself back into the office after a night of rough sleep, you’re not alone. But wow, what a game! So glad I stayed tuned in until the final seconds.

Did you catch that Nationwide commercial everybody was/is talking about (above)? I’m not sure what was worse–that throw-on-the-one-yard-line play call from the Seahawks or this PSA advertisement hybrid. Right in the middle of America’s biggest nacho-stuffing, beer-chugging, calorie-ignoring partyfest, Nationwide Insurance wants to start a conversation about dead children. Talk about a buzzkill. In fact, a day later, we (read: the…

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“Excuse Me, Ma’am, But That’s TMI”: Four Favorite Moments of 2014

“Excuse Me, Ma’am, But That’s TMI”: Four Favorite Moments of 2014

With three young kids, one who’s a toddler, I don’t get out to the theater much. Being absolutely exhausted at the end of the day, I can barely finish a glass of wine let alone a good novel. I solely rely on Pandora for my music selection and Netflix for TV programming ideas, so I’m not quite “up-to-date” on what’s hot and what’s not in the entertainment industry. But, what I can give you as a year-in-review is, well, me. Before we get any further into January, what follows are some of the moments from this past year when I…

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From the Magazine: The Message of Mercy in Children’s Books

From the Magazine: The Message of Mercy in Children’s Books

This list can be found in Issue 3 of the magazine. It comes from the inimitable Rev. Matt Schneider.

I’m picky about children’s books. There’s a lot of pablum out there, but once in a while my wife and I will find a surprisingly good book for our daughters. The standouts usually have an intangible quality to them, often corresponding with paradoxical acts of mercy between one character and another (and the positive effects). This is an incomplete list of some favorite books that you might consider picking up for your child, niece, godson, grandchild, or maybe even for yourself.

The Pout-Pout…

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2014: A Year in Review

2014: A Year in Review

I once was a fan of New Year’s resolutions–made a list (also a huge fan of lists!) every year. Every year, that is, until grace invaded my life and wiped the sheen off all my self-improvement projects. Now I’m more accepting of my constant work-in-progress state of being and the hand-in-hand partnership between my submission and God’s plan.

But if I had considered such a list twelve months ago, it would have been brief and it would have gone like this: Make 2014 less sucky than 2013. This time last year, I was finishing up a 2013 that included a suspicious…

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