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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 to pre-order! Free shipping on all orders made before its official release day, May 7.

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.

To Whom It May Concern,

First and foremost, whoever you are, SEND HELP. There are eight of us stuck on a small lifeboat. We’ve been out here for a week. Our coordinates are approximately THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE but we think…

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Announcing Unmapped by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips!

We couldn’t be more excited to announce Mockingbird’s latest book project, a sprawling and poignant “spiritual memoir duet” by two longtime Mockingbird writers, Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips. This book features a patchwork of personal essays, pocket liturgies, and pseudo-fictional plays, and not a dull moment between them.

Stephanie Phillips and Charlotte Getz never expected to raise their families anywhere but home, in the American South. But then…life happened.

Quirky, hilarious, and (mostly) true, UNMAPPED is the tale of two long-distance friends who found home—together and apart—in unexpected exile. This spiritual memoir duet is unlike anything you’ve ever read.

Pre-order here: Unmapped: The (Mostly) True Story of How Two Women Lost at Sea Found Their Way Home! 

Free domestic shipping on pre-orders made before May 7! Available in hardback and paperback.

The World's Greatest Dad

The World’s Greatest Dad

My wife is pregnant with our first child, which means that soon I will become the World’s Greatest Dad. I know this because I have done all the self-work necessary to understand how my parents failed me in my childhood. Using this self-knowledge, I will not make any of the mistakes my mother and father made. With mistakes eliminated, all that will be left is a good, healthy childhood. I just really want my children to have to “unlearn” as little as possible, you know?

Now to buy a baby book. Which one will show me the correct way to…

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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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Do I Feel a Draft? Keeping the Door Open for Reconciliation — A Conference Breakout Preview

With one week left until our New York Conference, here’s another breakout preview. This one comes to us from Carrie Willard.

Reconciliation might feel like something that is Someone Else’s Problem, preferably people who live at least an ocean away. Korea should probably get its act together, and the Middle East would also be a nice place to start. These conflicts are a nice, safe distance from our having to do anything about it. But reconciliation comes home in this conference breakout session, when we discuss reconciliation in family life.

We’ll talk about family reconciliation close to home, especially about the sister who’s been missing from the Family Math for the past eighteen years. Even when reconciliation isn’t readily available on the deadline we’d prefer, we can count on God to keep the door open for that reconciliation as we move through the rest of our lives without a balanced, settled equation.

We’ll also discuss the reconciliation in the House of Windsor, when the Queen of England felt called to reconcile with her uncle, the former King. Again, there’s no tidy, balanced equation in this family story, for all of the Queen’s desire to forgive.

As Fleming Rutledge so aptly highlights in The Crucifixion, any reconciliation we might realize in this life is a temporary one. So why should we bother? With clips from Grumpy Old Men and Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, we’ll talk about asking God’s forgiveness for our own failings, and how we get in our own way of reconciliation.

Don’t forget to register for the 11th Annual New York Conference! You won’t want to miss it!

How to Turn a Neighbor into an Other (According to Thomas More and Martin Luther)

How to Turn a Neighbor into an Other (According to Thomas More and Martin Luther)

Another incisive excerpt from How To Think, the fantastic little book by upcoming conference speaker Alan Jacobs, this time about the origins of cultural repulsion and “othering”—featuring none other than Martin Luther and Thomas More. There’s some choice language in the following, but the parallels to modern online discourse are too spot-on not to share. 

From How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds, pages 81-82:

“Thomas More’s attacks on Martin Luther and his followers, and Luther’s attacks on Catholicism (and especially the papacy), make most of today’s online insult fests seem tame. More wrote to Luther about “your…

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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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The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everyone – John Zahl

From our recent conference in Tyler, TX, here’s the incredible second talk from John Zahl, inspired by his book Grace in Addiction. Topics include: the founding of AA, the spirituality of the 12-steps, a plaid peg-leg, an empathetic high priest, and cat curling.

The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everyone – John Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Apparently I Am Not James Bond

Apparently I Am Not James Bond

When I was young I loved action movies. Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond was a focal point of my pre-adolescent years. I owned action movies on VHS, played their corresponding video games, and collected any paraphernalia that I could get my hands on.

On leaving the theater, after seeing the newest action thriller, the world seemed different. Everything seemed charged with energy as I snuck down the movie theater hall and peered around the corner into the lobby, mindful that the assassins or rogue state military personnel could be attacked at any moment. I remember riding in the middle seat of my…

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Transgressors, Transgression, and the Perilous Bridge of Forgiveness – A Conference Breakout Preview

In this past week’s Another Week Ends, I mentioned very briefly the newest season of Invisibilia, one of our go-to podcasts. That particular episode, “The Pattern Problem,” tells the story of a woman with a seriously checkered past, some her fault, some not at all. She’s the child of addicts, an ex-addict and ex-felon herself, and yet she’s made an against-all-odds comeback: after a couple stints in prison, she gets into law school and is now studying for the bar. A panel of judges overseeing the bar in her state is deciding whether or not her past precludes her from such an unlikely future.

I won’t give away what ends up happening, but you can see where the focus on “patterns” comes into play. Does her criminal past foreshadow the future? Can we really be sure she’s changed? Patterns provide ways for people to make sober decisions. They are the conditional protective measures for how we decide to invest our time, our money, and in this case, our forgiveness. Courts as institutions are not known to be particularly forgiving—it’s not their job—but the same patterns are at work for us, in our minds, in the ways we read the news and process the actions of our strangers and friends alike.

Human beings don’t just dole out our forgiveness to anyone. To the contrary, unforgiveness is tended to like a formal garden. Each garden has hard boundaries with designated entrances, and strict guidelines for keeping its delicate order alive. It has to be that way. Otherwise, the garden would be indistinguishable from the chaos surrounding it. I am not trying to be glib. This is really how it has to be.

At the same time, social science has made it clear that unforgiveness will, in the end, kill you. For all the sensible order our fine gardens provide, they are solitary places, kept alive by stress, numbness to intruders, and estrangement. In other words, unforgiveness may simplify the “pattern problem,” but forgiveness, we are told by social science (and by the New Testament), is the way to new life.

In this breakout, we will talk about the psychology of forgiveness, its proven biological and psychosocial benefits, its various meanings in our culture, and the real, totally practical hope it expresses in the Bible.

Register for the 11th Annual Mockingbird Conference here! Miss out, and you’ll never forgive yourself…

The Stories We Tell

The Stories We Tell

For Valentine’s Day this year, my husband Jason and I opted out of the traditional romantic candlelit dinner scenario and, instead, took a too-seldom trip to the movie theater to see Black Panther. As with Wonder Woman before it, I had high expectations due to pre-release buzz surrounding the film. Also, I was just excited to watch something that wasn’t animated (PJ Masks, I’m looking at you).

A spate of recent movies and TV shows, including the aforementioned, has stepped intentionally into the arena of untold or undertold-as-yet stories, narratives in which the main characters occupy a group that has…

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PZ's Podcast: Soul-Tie

PZ’s Podcast: Soul-Tie

Please note: PZ’s Podcast is now on Spotify!

EPISODE 244

This cast is a kind of summation of my thinking about romantic love in its relation to one’s soul’s salvation.

I have thought about the compelling nature of romance — between two people, I mean — in both its positive, inspiring importance and also its possible negative and undermining impact. In fact, one has long searched for a key, the ‘haft’ that actually opens the door and heals one of scarring memories and long-carried-over inward losses.

Not only has this theme of romantic love’s long-term vicissitudes been with me for awhile, but I’ve often…

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