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Identity


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.

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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We Are All Sad Ben Affleck on a Beach with a Back Tattoo

We Are All Sad Ben Affleck on a Beach with a Back Tattoo

When I first clicked through to the New Yorker piece, “The Great Sadness of Ben Affleck,” I’ll admit that it felt a little bit like seeing the sad ex-boyfriend of a close friend. The momentary thrill of schadenfreude: “you’ve done her wrong, and look at how that worked out for you.” Ben Affleck is not looking so great these days, and I feel a pang of satisfaction on behalf of his ex-wife, Jennifer Garner.

To be clear, Jennifer Garner is not my close friend, but she feels like a girlfriend to so many of us who came of age in the…

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The First Chapter of Bed and Board by Robert Farrar Capon - New Edition Available Now!

The First Chapter of Bed and Board by Robert Farrar Capon – New Edition Available Now!

And now we present an excerpt from the most recent addition to our Robert Farrar Capon series, his greatly esteemed work Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage. An essential book for any Capon-lover, this was Robert’s first bestseller, and you’ll see why in this introductory chapter, reproduced below.

“Bed and Board is necessary and offensive in the best possible way.” – Sarah Condon

“…sage wisdom, biting humor, uncomfortable truths…never a page that must be forgiven for pedantic, sawdusty prose.” – Chad Bird

I.

ABSURDITY

The author celebrates the Holy Estate of Matrimony, professes disillusionment with the usual advices about it, and gives…

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This Is Not My Fight Song

This Is Not My Fight Song

I was hungover on my wedding day.

I say this not because I think it’s cute—and certainly my mom and sister, who drove me to the salon to get our hair did while I retched into a bucket in the backseat (it was one of the greeting baskets we gave to the wedding guests with the itinerary, bottled water, and snacks! I emptied it first), did not think it was cute either. My mistake was borne of a week of too much anxiety and too little food—along with perhaps too much alcohol? (The jury’s still out on science.) Once our trio…

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The Weight of Masculinity, Toxic or Otherwise

The Weight of Masculinity, Toxic or Otherwise

In our house, emotions were embraced. I was never told that “boys don’t cry;” it was never implied that men hide their emotions. When your dad is a professional opera-singing pastor-psychologist, and your mother a high-powered hospital executive, you get different messages about gender norms than most. As if you needed proof: my parents let me dress in a bathrobe and red heeled slippers and pretend to be Wendy from Peter Pan until I was four. If Peter Pan is a woman (the incredible Mary Martin), why can’t Wendy be a man?

That freedom was cut short. “Boys can’t play with…

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Moses and the Millennials: Looking to a Second Millennium Man for a Millennial Question

Moses and the Millennials: Looking to a Second Millennium Man for a Millennial Question

This one was written by Abigail Russell.

Identity has been a buzzword in the Christian milieu for a few years now. We flock to personality tests and identity paradigms like MBTI and the Enneagram because having a title, a description, anything we can claim as ours pulls us in like an addiction. We take the tests over and over again wanting proof that we’ve changed and grown but also longing for consistency. We find our “type,” and it becomes like a friendly shadow following closely behind; it becomes the murky, undefined evidence that we exist. But despite all these identity handles,…

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Announcing Bed & Board: Plain Talk About Marriage by Robert Farrar Capon!

It is a privilege to announce the latest installment in our Robert Farrar Capon series… Bed & Board: Plain Talk About Marriage.

This little book was Robert’s first best-seller, originally published in 1965. Now re-released for the first time, Bed & Board is Father Capon’s enduring, rambunctious counsel on marriage and family life—woven through with the message of grace that never changes, no matter the decade.

From inside:

“This book is not about those giants who tower over you: Psychology, Education, Maturity, Sexual Adjustment—not even Religion. They can take care of themselves. This is about you—that is, about me (for we are all unique, and practically identical). This is, to be honest, not a book at all. It is only a monologue, and not an entirely sober one at that. It is one peasant swapping stories with another in the cold backyard of the House of Important Subjects, while the grand seigneurs hold their solemn consultations within. The author’s qualifications therefore almost cease to matter. Indeed, he has arranged things so that only one is really necessary: He must be an expert in absurdity. And that is the only qualification that will be offered. An absurd Baedeker for an absurd journey; no apologies, no explanations…”

You can order Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage, by Robert Farrar Capon here!

You can also find Mockingbird editions of Robert’s other books here: The Man Who Met God in a Bar, and More Theology & Less Heavy Cream.

I Have Summoned You by Name

I Have Summoned You by Name

When my husband and I were dreaming of names for our firstborn, we had a great book called The Baby Name Wizard by Laura Wattenburg. Actually, my amazon order history tells me that we bought the book a full year and a half before our son was born, so we were really getting a jump on the baby naming situation. Picking names sounds like one of those magical, fun experiences, like choosing a wedding dress, until you actually have to commit to one, and then it is terrifying. The baby naming may be more stressful than the wedding dress, though, because…

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Message in a Bottle - An Excerpt from Unmapped Washes Ashore

Message in a Bottle – An Excerpt from Unmapped Washes Ashore

Mockingbird’s latest book—“Unmapped” by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips—is now available!

The following “Message in a Bottle” will give you a little taste of what you’ll find in this hilarious and (mostly) true story of two long-distance friends who found hope and grace in unexpected exile.

What They Don't Show You On Fixer Upper

What They Don’t Show You On Fixer Upper

In keeping with the millennial stereotype of rustic appeal, my wife and I bought our first home this summer, a “fixer-upper” with a lot of character, wet insulation, and dead birds. We took a selfie out front, made a list of future projects, hired a contractor, personally knocked some walls out, and let some light into a house that had not been lived in for nearly ten years. We slapped a fresh coat of paint on the outside, with a green accent door, and voila! Home! Eat it, Chip and Jojo…got no time for that shiplap!

Of course, it has not…

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Geno Auriemma and the Tyranny of…Wait, Didn’t We Just Do This?

Geno Auriemma and the Tyranny of…Wait, Didn’t We Just Do This?

Geno Auriemma is the high priest of women’s college basketball. His career record is 1027-136, which, I promise you, is not a typo. I checked it a bunch of times. His University of Connecticut basketball team is the unquestioned top dog (it’s a pun…they’re the Huskies) in the sport. They get all best recruits, lose an average of about one game a season, and nearly always win the National Championship.

But Auriemma’s not satisfied. He has no peace.

Sports seems to provide the perfect crucible for this sort of impossible-to-satisfy quest. Tom Brady’s on it, and so is almost every other athlete,…

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