It has been a Mockingbird tradition to highlight worthy graduation speeches amidst the vast sea of snoozers. As the spring commencement season approaches, I want to point out that Ed Helms, the actor who played Andy Bernard on The Office, will be giving a speech at Cornell University’s graduation on May 24. This is noteworthy because Andy Bernard, the sycophantic airhead with anger-management issues, always brags about how he went to Cornell (’93). “Ever heard of it?”
Helm’s upcoming speech is bound to go at least semi-viral just by his showing up at Cornell. But it’s even more likely to go viral…
This letter from the editor opens up our first issue of The Mockingbird, our quarterly magazine which has just arrived in mailboxes! To subscribe to The Mockingbird, click here.
“Tell me which kinds of excesses fascinate you, tell me which kinds of excesses appall you, and I will tell you who you are.” –Adam Phillips, “In Excess”
If Phillips is right, and excesses are the ways we are revealed, then there’s plenty to say about what’s been passing through my Newsfeed. Just this week: Kanye West commissions a Kim Kardashian pop-art portrait from one of Andy Warhol’s cousins in Arizona….
Despite my instincts to steer clear of self help literature, I recently read Stephen R. Covey’s classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Can anything good come from the self help genre? To my surprise, yes, especially this excerpted section below on “Scripting Others” from Habit 7: Sharpening the Saw (basically, self care). In the following section he talks about something akin to imputation—the act of attributing to someone a trait not otherwise natural to themselves.
At some time in your life, you probably had someone believe in you when you didn’t believe in yourself. They scripted you. Did that…
I was recently thinking how ABC’s Modern Family just isn’t as good as it used to be (for me) and that I kind of watch it out of duty nowadays. And then, BAM! They produce probably one of their better/best episodes ever. It revolves around high school anxieties, SATs, and college admissions: “Under Pressure.” The theme is certainly timely since this is the time of year many high schoolers start hearing back from college and university admissions offices. The unquestionable hero of this episode? Claire Dunphy. You have to watch the entire clip below to find out why:
1. Grab your kleenex, cause here comes the one way love, ht JZ:
2. The NY Times lobbed one straight over the plate last Sunday with “The Agony of Instagram,” a look into “an online culture where the ethic is impress, rather than confess.” It’s fairly one-sided of course–Instagram is just as much an outlet for inspiration and creativity as it is identity curation and law–but still, a few of the soundbites are just too tempting not to reproduce:
For many urban creative professionals these days, it’s not unusual to scroll through one’s Instagram feed and feel suffocated by fabulousness: There’s…
Last week, an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education spread like wildfire through Facebook News Feeds. That doesn’t happen very often.
The article, a commentary by Kevin Carey entitled “Welcome, Freshmen. You Don’t Deserve to Be Here,” begins at Stanford University’s freshman convocation. We can sense that the freshman are nervous about matriculating to such a mythical institution. Maybe, after meeting their brilliant, fellow freshmen, they are wondering whether they have what it takes or whether the admissions office improperly evaluated them. So the dean stands before the freshman and attempts to comfort them with these words: “”We have made…
We’ve gotten a lot of mileage over the years from graduation speeches. Perhaps because they tend to be so long on law and short on grace–i.e. full of exhortation rather than comfort–that when they’re good, they really stand out. Among our favorite “anti-commencement addresses” would have to be those by Bill Watterson, JK Rowling, Conan O’Brien, Jonathan Franzen and, of course, David Foster Wallace. With schools around the country gearing up for their big days, I figured it was time to toss another log on the fire, in the form of the hilarious and deceptively wise words Stephen Colbert delivered…
In conjunction with our upcoming NYC conference, we are honored to present an exclusive excerpt from keynote speaker Tullian Tchividjian’s forthcoming book, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World. (Yes, the title is a shout-out to the man himself). This part comes from the opening of chapter nine, which deals with some of the common objections to the message of grace.
For many Americans of a certain age, the college admissions process is an oppressive and extraordinarily stressful area of life. It is performancism writ very, very large. One’s entire worth and value as a person is boiled down…
A thought-provoking article from the The Guardian about Norway’s prison island Bastoy, where inmates are treated like human beings (i.e. sinners in need of mercy) and which has the lowest recidivism rate in Europe (16%!). Don’t call it imputation, but apparently, grace works. A couple choice quotes:
From the warden, Arne Nilsen:
“In closed prisons we keep them locked up for some years and then let them back out, not having had any real responsibility for working or cooking. In the law, being sent to prison is nothing to do with putting you in a terrible prison to make you suffer. The punishment is…
While we’re on the subject of young people, Jennifer Senior’s “Why You Never Truly Leave High School” in New York Magazine is an absolute goldmine on the topic of identity. High school has long been understood as an incubator for identity formation, but it’s still fascinating to read about the research behind it, particularly why it makes for such a lousy incubator. Everyone knows that we bear the scars we receive during those years for a lifetime; to see them tracked and quantified is pretty scary. As if we needed another reminder of how identity can be a prison! (One…
You might have already heard Professor Francis Su’s lecture “The Lesson of Grace in Teaching” as it bounced across social networks last weekend. Su is Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College and was recently awarded the Haimo Award for his work as a mathematics educator. All Haimo award winners are invited to lecture regarding their own pedagogical discoveries to their peers, and Su chose to speak the on role of grace in higher education.
Again, we really couldn’t have said it any better.
You can find the the whole transcript and audio for the…
This breakout comes from Christie Walker and Kemp Hill, who have been involved in ministry for small children for over twenty years, have learned some insightful paths into the heart of the Gospel in a place where it so often seems dried up, what with the felt boards and church ladies. They have since created curricula that seek to bring the Gospel back into Sunday School. In their breakout session, they look into these questions:
How can we share the Gospel with children at church in a fun and meaningful way? How can we meet the needs of families with children who come to church? Has anybody ever tried to find a Sunday School curriculum that isn’t just moralism?
We are not “The Church Ladies.” In twenty years of children’s ministry, these are questions we’ve been probing at Christ Episcopal Church. In our Breakout session, our hope is to explore these questions together and share some things that have worked well for us.
Here’s the audio from the breakout session.
Or, if you prefer, you can download the audio by right clicking here and selecting “Save link As…”
Hat tip to a wise friend who recently sent me an article from The Chronicle of Higher Learning entitled “Why Lies Often Stick Better Than Truth.” The thrust of the article has to do with recent psychological research about how people often hold onto slanted information and outright lies—even after being presented with sound counter arguments. It would appear that rejecting previously-believed misinformation involves some hard and undesirable work, which many of us would rather not do. In my context as a minister, the article inspired a brief exchange about why, even when we repeatedly preach salvation by grace through…
1. An incredibly moving account of “Depression and Despair at Harvard” in response to the suicide of a classmate by Jordan Monge on The Harvard Ichthus. With real vulnerability, Monge touches on the crushing power of expectation, the vicious circle of shame and fear, the grace of defeat, even the toxic and tragic way Christians revert to the Law, post-conversion. It’s a courageous testament to the reality that we are not saved us from pain, but in and through it, ht AZ:
Admitting my weakness feels like admitting that I am not good enough to bear my own name….
WHAT: Mockingbird seeks to connect the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life in fresh and down-to-earth ways.
WHY: Are we called Mockingbird? The name was inspired by the mockingbird’s peculiar gift for mimicking the cries of other birds. In a similar way, we seek to repeat the message we have heard - God’s word of grace and forgiveness.
HOW: Via every medium available! At present this includes (but is not limited to) a daily weblog, semi-annual conferences, and an ongoing publications initiative.
WHO: At present, we employ three full-time staff, David Zahl and Ethan Richardson and William McDavid. They are helped and supported by a large number of contributing volunteers and writers. Our board of directors is chaired by Mr. Thomas Becker.
WHERE: Our offices are located at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, VA.
WHEN: Mockingbird was incorporated in June 2007 and is currently in its seventh year of operation.
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