Identity

2014 NYC Conference Recordings: Identity, Anxiety & the Christian Message

An incredibly heartfelt thank-you to everyone who helped put on this year’s Mockingbird Conference in NYC, especially our friends at Calvary St. George’s Church. We took some risks this time around, and if reports are to be believed, it sounds like they paid off! Phew.

We are once again making the recordings available at no charge; we only ask that those who were not able to attend this year *consider* making a donation to help cover the cost of the event. Download links are followed by an in-line player for each recording. Almost everything was videotaped, and we plan to start rolling those clips out gradually over the next few weeks (some of the presentations won’t make much sense without the accompanying footage). At the bottom we have provided a link at the very bottom to download everything in one big file.

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Thursday April 3rd

Devotion 1, “Presentation” – John Zahl


Can You See the Real Me? – David Zahl


Friday April 4th

Devotion 2, “Profession” – John Zahl


The Chimera of Identity in an Anxious World – Paul Walker


Communicating Grace Through Story – Sally Lloyd-Jones*
As we hopefully made clear beforehand, Sally’s wonderful talk was not recorded or taped.

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Morning Breakouts

I’m New Here! What’s Going On? – RJ Heijmen


Stephen Colbert and the Ancient Pulpit of Satire – Ethan Richardson


Everything New Is Moralism Again – Jacob Smith


What’s My Faction? (Teen) Angst and Young Adult Dystopias – Deborah Leighton


The Uglier Ditch: First Century Love in the Present Tense – Jono Linebaugh


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Devotion 3, “Pedigree” – John Zahl


Jesus, Nietzsche & Me – Tim Kreider (Be sure to listen to the very end!)


Thomas Cranmer’s Gospel of Divine Allurement – Ashley Null


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Afternoon Breakouts

Ye Who Are Heavy Laden: Anxiety, Suffering and the Gospel – Lauren Larkin


Online Honesty and Instagram Authenticity – Bryan Jarrell


Eden and Afterward: Introducing an Mbird Guide to Genesis – William McDavid


Grace in Identity-Induced Despair: The Literature of Reynolds Price – Win Bassett


It Can’t Mean That: The Terrible Parables of Jesus – Nick Lannon


Devotion 4, “Predisposition” – John Zahl


Can You Say the Creed (and Still Call Your Soul Your Own)? – Francis Spufford


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Saturday April 5th

Devotion 5, “Passion” – John Zahl


The Rationalist Delusion and the Perils of Certainty – Jonathan Haidt


On Not Being C.S. Lewis – Francis Spufford


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Bonus Track:

Presenting Comfortable Words: A Reception in Honor of Paul F.M. Zahl – Jady Koch, Todd Brewer & Paul Zahl


DOWNLOAD EVERYTHING IN ONE ENORMOUS ZIP FILE (320MB)

Ron Lester Has the (Varsity) Blues

Ron Lester Has the (Varsity) Blues

Palm Sunday is an annual reminder that what goes up must come down. As if we needed reminding.

Remember Varsity Blues? Honestly, I don’t. I never saw the movie. But it was a huge success at the box office, and, as a Friday Night Lights knockoff, it really couldn’t miss, especially since it starred Paul Walker, James van der Beek, Ali Larter, and Scott Caan. The most unforgettable performance, though, (I’m told) came from one Ron Lester, who played the enormous offensive tackle, Billy Bob.

At the time Varsity Blues was filmed, Lester weighed close to 500 pounds, which, combined with his…

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Mining Netflix: The Common Mess of a Punch-Drunk Love

Mining Netflix: The Common Mess of a Punch-Drunk Love

(For the optimal reading experience, listen to the film’s soundtrack on Spotify while reading.) 

The phantasmal kid films of the mid to late 1990’s functioned as educational catechisms for my comprehension of cinematic storytelling. And make no mistake, the 90’s were a golden age for children’s movies. With the birth of Pixar in ‘95 and the far too premature peak of Nickelodeon Movies in the latter part of the decade, there surely was never a better time for school to be in session. There was, however, one common denominator, shared by nearly all children’s films, that severely irked me: the obligatory…

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A Reality Check from Bad Suns (and John Calvin)

A Reality Check from Bad Suns (and John Calvin)

I recently discovered Bad Suns, an up-and-coming band from California, whose song “Salt” seems to be played almost daily during my commute. Listen to what it says: “Look in the mirror and tell me/ What it is like to be free/ How do I grasp reality/ When I don’t have an identity?/ Who, who can I look to ’cause I’m not like you, you?/ And I don’t believe in the truth, truth/ Because all of my life’s built on lies.”

When I hear these lyrics, I can’t help but think of what Paul Zahl recently says in PZ’s Podcast episode #162 called “Rain Dance”. Simple…

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Another Week Ends: Normcore, Eterni.me, Colbert’s Late Show Prospects, Post-Grad Advice, and “I Love You, Buts”

Another Week Ends: Normcore, Eterni.me, Colbert’s Late Show Prospects, Post-Grad Advice, and “I Love You, Buts”

Real quick before we get going: Conference recordings should be up early next week! Videos will roll out gradually after that. Also, we’ve pulled Eden and Afterward to make some final changes. Look for a release announcement in the next ten days.

1) Even getting out of the game is part of the game, now. In fact, it is the game de rigueur. If you thought you weren’t in a fashion trend, if you didn’t know a group existed for people who were actually dressed just like most people, now there is, and you are, and it is the innest…

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On Being Chill: Peace, Love, and Overcompensation

On Being Chill: Peace, Love, and Overcompensation

Summer after senior year of high school, I wrote a letter. To an older boy. It was vulnerability in the extreme sense—the Dawson’s Creek worthy, angst-ridden, hormones-flying, high school romance type of vulnerability that still makes me wince. And, true to my high school self, it was totally unwarranted. And thus, unrequited. Rather than receiving back any type of acknowledgement, the response to my letter was complete and utter radio silence. You hate to see that.

Then there was the post college breakup, twenty page text message (literally) that I sent to my newly ex-boyfriend—“Hey… I’m about to leave town and…

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How the Pout-Pout fish Becomes the Kiss-Kiss Fish

How the Pout-Pout fish Becomes the Kiss-Kiss Fish

In my perennial search for great children’s books written by people other than the beloved Sally Lloyd-Jones (there are few), I recently came across the clearest illustration of the law (demand) and grace (love) paradigm in storybook form: The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen. The story is about sad Mr. Fish, and all the other fish of the sea, who each in their own special way tell him to smile and cheer up. You know, what’s wrong with you? Mr. Fish’s constant refrain to these well-intended yet naive advice givers goes like this:

I’m a pout-pout fish with a pout-pout face. So I spread the…

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Glimmers of Civilization (and Grace) in The Grand Budapest Hotel

Glimmers of Civilization (and Grace) in The Grand Budapest Hotel

I was bonding with a friend in New York last week over our mutual affection for the new Wes Anderson film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. After swapping a few favorite lines, he asked, with a twinkle in his eye, “So how’re you going to shoe-horn this one into your theological framework?” Quick wit that I am, I responded, “A story about adoption and inheritance that ends with an act of radical self-sacrifice – probably won’t need my shoehorn for this one”. Badabing! Obnoxious, I know. What’s even more obnoxious is that I’d been thinking for days about Grand Budapest and…

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On Tiger Woods Becoming His “Own Ragged Company”

On Tiger Woods Becoming His “Own Ragged Company”

“Golf is a good walk spoiled” – Mark Twain

Indeed.

In the “Tiger/Phil Debate”, I’ve always been a Phil guy.  My reasoning is a tad lame.  I like Phil Mickelson because he’s left-handed (like me) and because he has a propensity for those Tin Cup type shots from bodily crevices heretofore not defined (in all of the good and bad ways).   However, Tiger Woods is growing on me because he’s becoming (whether he likes it or not) increasingly human – and correspondingly, increasingly rootable.

Tiger pulled out of this week’s Masters Tournament (and at least the first half of the 2014 season)…

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What’s Oppressive about My Opinion? Millennial Paralysis in the Post-Critical Age

What’s Oppressive about My Opinion? Millennial Paralysis in the Post-Critical Age

Over at the New York Times‘ Opinionator, Zachary Fine ponders the millennial predicament of pluralism, and the pressure all 20- and 30-somethings face to inherit opinions that can most easily fit into the “new orthodoxy of multiculturalism.” Fine notes that pluralism is often gracefully self-described as ” faithfully disinterested” or “energetically engaged with diversity,” but that its impact has created a kind of analysis paralysis. What can one say, we wonder, without wakening the beehive of multicultural non-violence? How can one have an opinion, when having one means being a bigot? The generosity of pluralism, in theory, seems to create…

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The Verge Takes a Swipe at Performancism

The Verge Takes a Swipe at Performancism

Here’s a quick one from Josh Encinias:

When the journalism market bottomed out in 2008, many writers—discouraged and broke—gave up on their careers. But a few years later click-bait journalism pumped life into the industry, and it’s still riding that wave. Measuring clicks may help with advertising, but a writer stuck on their deliverables become “traffic whores,” according to The Verge.

From “If Popular Books Had Clickbait Titles” on CollegeHumor.com

Last month, the American Journalism Review reported that The Verge’s editing team does not share clicks and traffic data with their writers.

“We used to show the writers and editors traffic, and told…

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The Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and Cultural Christianity in the Deep South

The Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and Cultural Christianity in the Deep South

This one comes to us from Oscar Price:

The Alabama State House of Representatives recently passed a bill which, if approved by the Senate and signed by the governor, would create a ballot measure to permit the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools.  That the sponsor of the bill did not actually know the Ten Commandments did little to deter his colleagues, who passed the bill by an overwhelming majority.

This is precisely the cultural climate of which Ross Douthat writes in Sunday’s New York Times – a culture in which Christianity, or some form of it, is so mainstream, and “traditional” values so…

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“That’s not a Catch!”: The Fallible Official and the Demand for Justice

“That’s not a Catch!”: The Fallible Official and the Demand for Justice

Major League Baseball finally “got with the ’90′s” this week, as it saw it’s first coach’s (manager’s) challenge, on an 0ut/safe call, in league history.    There has long been a debate within the sport over whether or not to slow down an already leisurely paced game by instituting a challenge system similar to what has been used for years in the NFL and other professional sports.  Despite the objections of some baseball purists, beginning this season, managers can challenge out/safe, fair/foul, catch/no catch calls.

In March 28th’s New York Times “Gray Matter” column, Brayden King points out that (oddly) the…

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Another Week Ends: Robots, Children, Busybodies, Grocery Store Flowcharts, Self-Hating Memories, Money-Burning Radio, Noah Dissent and Eight-Year-Old Guitar

Another Week Ends: Robots, Children, Busybodies, Grocery Store Flowcharts, Self-Hating Memories, Money-Burning Radio, Noah Dissent and Eight-Year-Old Guitar

 A quick update: we had some trouble with the Kindle version of The Mockingbird Devotional, but it’s now available here. It’s been tested with Kindle Fire and should work for older Kindles, too – Paperwhite compatibility is a little dubious (if there are problems, let us know so we can gripe to Amazon) – and it should work for iPad/iPhone and Android, too. 

1. The robots are coming: it’s a major upheaval we’ll see in the next few years, and one that’s flown relatively under the radar. So many avenues for exploring how we’ll relate to them, how they’ll change things – surrogate…

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The New “Curse of the Bambino”

The New “Curse of the Bambino”

While getting an annual physical yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice all of the little inspirational quotes that had been meticulously typed, printed, cut out, and taped generously throughout the lab technician’s office.  Some were quite good – you can’t go wrong with MLK or JFK.  I have to admit that when I walked out of there, after having had blood drawn amidst a sea of “you can do it’s”, I was ready to charge hell with a squirt gun – or at least charge less squeamishly into the next “less fun” parts of the physical.

One of the quotes I…

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