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Identity

“The Only Thing You’ve Got Is What You Can Sell”: Making Peace with the Stories We Tell Ourselves

“The Only Thing You’ve Got Is What You Can Sell”: Making Peace with the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Death of a Salesman is one of my favorite stories, not because it is a piece of great “litracha,” but because it is about a man to whom I can profoundly relate. For anyone who wasn’t subjected to Arthur Miller’s masterpiece in high school, here are the basics: Willy Loman is a salesman harboring great expectations for his son, Biff. When grown-up Biff returns for a visit (“I’m mixed up very bad,” he says), Willy’s delusions about who Biff should be collide with who Biff really is. Willy nevertheless maintains a blind sort of optimism: “Certain men just don’t get started…

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On Being an Imposter: “Fake It Till Ya Make It” in a World of Expectations

On Being an Imposter: “Fake It Till Ya Make It” in a World of Expectations

This one comes to us from pastry-making imposter, Madeline D’Elia. 

The social science concept of imposter syndrome, or imposter phenomenon (IP) as it should properly be called, has been in the spotlight for a few years now. It was the topic of Facebook CEO’s Sheryl Sandberg’s 2011 book Lean In, social psychologist’s Amy Cuddy’s 2012 Ted Talk, and Carl Richards’ piece in the New York Times. We’ve all heard the hackneyed expression, “fake it till you make it,” and IP can best be thought of as the deep seated anxiety that you will always be on the former end versus the…

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The Academic Terror Dream

The Academic Terror Dream

This one comes to us from our terrified academic friend, Duo Dickinson.

I am 61 years old. The last time I took a meaningful test was when I took, and passed, the last 2 (of 5) days of licensing exams to become an architect in 1982, 35 years ago.

But 20 years of testing from grammar school through licensing exams infected me with a disease so deep it’s unseen, unfelt and without consequence. Unless I am asleep.

By any objective estimate, I have lived a blessed life. I may have worked hard, but I have been given every advantage by circumstances I did…

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How to Lose an Argument: Biased Assimilation in Rational Thinking

How to Lose an Argument: Biased Assimilation in Rational Thinking

I think we owe ourselves a congratulations. We got through the holidays! The holiday-less S.A.D.-inducing winter spans before us and the countdown to new TV shows and MLK day begins.

Amid all of my complaining about 2016 and the politics of gift-giving, I had forgotten to expect one thing that can actually make the holidays challenging: just spending time with family…occupying the same dinner table, digging into the same refrigerator, watching the same movies with a group of people we never chose our relation to. It was only a matter of time before our great Uncle Fabio–we all have one–staggered through the doorway with all sorts of opinions…

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Scrolling Through Career Options: Choice Overload and the Fear of Commitment

Scrolling Through Career Options: Choice Overload and the Fear of Commitment

This one comes to us from Madeline D’Elia. 

While most people think about commitment anxiety in terms of relationships, it can perhaps be better thought of in terms of Netflix. Imagine logging into your Netflix account (or your friend, mother-in-law’s, or old college roommate’s account) and scrolling through the thousands of options under the dozens of genres. You finally choose to watch Jane the Virgin. After five or six minutes, you begin to discover the reason that most people love Netflix: If they realize they don’t want to know what happens to a young woman who gets accidentally artificially inseminated, they can…

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“Invasion of the Cream Snatchers” by Robert Farrar Capon

“Invasion of the Cream Snatchers” by Robert Farrar Capon

Here is an excerpt from the second essay in Mockingbird’s latest publication, More Theology & Less Heavy Cream, by Robert Farrar Capon–available now in our online store and on Amazon! 

More Theology & Less Heavy Cream is a never-before-published collection of Robert’s essays featuring his and his wife’s alter-egos, Pietro and Madeleine. Join them in this charming episode as they ruminate on cooking, shame, and a law by the name of Irving.

“What went wrong last night?” Madeleine asked in disbelief. “You’ve made that heavy cream sauce a thousand times. How come, at the one dinner party I rave about it in advance, you make it…

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The Sad Optimism of La La Land

The Sad Optimism of La La Land

In the end of Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone get what they’ve always wanted. Once it’s theirs, though, they realize it’s not what they were expecting. Stone’s imagination steers us through the final scene, a montage of what could have been. It’s funny and heartbreaking, in turns. Her quirky, unsuccessful play premiers to a sold out auditorium, and Gosling’s depressing gig playing mood music at a lousy restaurant wins impossible acclaim. It’s not what actually happened, and it’s not the way things ever happen.

Happy endings are the stuff of fairytales. And though it feels like…

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What Women’s Ministries Lack

What Women’s Ministries Lack

This post comes to us from Kelsi Klembara.

The lights in the large auditorium dim as quiet worship music plays in the background and a hushed buzz spreads throughout the room full of women. I look hesitantly at the two women sitting next to me. The speaker has just told us since Christian sisterhood is all about authenticity, it’s time to spill our guts to a neighbor we’ve never met. I’ve been through this before: share your story, make sure to emphasize the sin that used to be in your life and the growing holiness that is taking it’s place. That’s…

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An Election Cycle Ends: Deeper Identities, Social Media Bandwith, Listening Ears, Sore Knees, and the Last Three Verses of Amazing Grace

An Election Cycle Ends: Deeper Identities, Social Media Bandwith, Listening Ears, Sore Knees, and the Last Three Verses of Amazing Grace

It’s been two weeks since the election ended, though you wouldn’t necessarily guess it from the way election coverage has continued. DZ already covered some initial thoughts on the results, understanding our collective emotional turmoil from a lens of low anthropology. Since then, the vote has been dissected and discussed thousands of ways, and believe it or not, some of those reflections contain glimpses of a law and gospel lens. If for no other reason than posterity’s sake, here are a few links to articles whose contents might be worth a glance.

First off, in The NY Times, Rabbi Michael Learner articulates the…

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Searching Low and High for the Who Behind The Who

Searching Low and High for the Who Behind The Who

A flurry of thinkpieces circulating at the moment about the dark side of identity politics—for reasons that should be fairly self-evident. Just before starting in on a contribution of my own, a guardian angel reminded me that I’d already spilled plenty of ink on that subject in The Who chapter of A Mess of Help, an earlier version of which appeared in the Identity Issue of The Mockingbird. Somehow that essay never made it onto the site. Well, no longer:

It was the mid-90s, and one of my older brother’s friends had decided to make our house a stop on…

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Let’s Have an Uncomfortable Talk About Infertility and (I Guess) Grace

Let’s Have an Uncomfortable Talk About Infertility and (I Guess) Grace

This moving reflection comes to us from Ben Maddison.

Sitting alone in the doctor’s office at a quarter past two on a Wednesday, I held out hope that I was still in control of my life. After a year and a half of trying—of home tests and office tests, and pills and vitamins and online tips, and all those pesky “lifestyle changes”—I waited for the doctor to come in and give me the news I wanted. I sort of knew I was grasping at straws. That didn’t stop me from hoping for the best.

It’s weird to anxiously wait for test results…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Colossians Chapter Three Verse Three

This brief but powerful reflection comes to us from JAZ himself. 

For you have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3, NIV)

goblin-king-sarahImagine that you suddenly find yourself, without any preparation, standing on a stage and being watched by an enormous audience. How would wearing a mask over your face affect your level of comfort? If you’re like me, the answer is: immensely. It’s like being able to tell someone something that you’ve always wished someone would say to them, but without them knowing that it was you who said it. Wearing a mask enables you to feel either detached from or, at least, less associated with anything of yourself that you might regret exposing.

When we are given security that is not contingent upon our own intrinsic abilities, fruit is born, as if by reflex. It is life lived in the absence of condemnation.

As far as today is concerned, there is no rehearsal, but the performance must go on. In a very real sense, God has already covered your life with His Holy Spirit. “Your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”