Relationships

The Cost and Benefit of Forgiveness (Class)

The Cost and Benefit of Forgiveness (Class)

I remember a conversation some years ago where a friend was voicing her chief objection to Christianity. It had nothing to do with science, or politics, or even suffering (at least not explicitly). What she found offensive about the faith was the notion/assertion/accusation that one of our primary needs as human beings is for forgiveness. In her view, the Christian emphasis on forgiveness was part and parcel of a defeatist anthropology that undermined human dignity, perpetuating negative self-understandings that we would be better off without. Furthermore, it set people up as guilty by default, which, when it came to systemic…

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How I Learned To Love Gravedigging in Marriage – Matt and Megan Magill

And…. we’re back! A handful more videos from the Fall Conference to share, the first of which captures, beautifully, what happens when vulnerability, truth, and amazing harmonies come together:

Cause This is Thriller: How I Learned to Love Grave Digging (in Marriage) – Matt and Megan Magill from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Conceiving Advent Differently

Conceiving Advent Differently

As I stumble through the door of the fourth baby shower or “sprinkle” I have attended in the last two months, wobbling atop a pair of rarely worn pumps, my eyes dart immediately to the buffet. I survey the landscape and breathe a sigh of relief: there are mimosas. And pimento cheese. Praise Jesus. Five minutes later, I am balancing a champagne flute in one hand, a blue paper plate in the other (It’s a boy, duh), and am trying to use my pinky finger to transfer a Ritz cracker to my mouth when the grandmother-of-the-honoree pauses her dialogue about…

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Another Week Ends: Exotic Magi, Histories of Christmas, More Elves on Shelves, Rand Reviews Children’s Movies, and More Messes of Help

Another Week Ends: Exotic Magi, Histories of Christmas, More Elves on Shelves, Rand Reviews Children’s Movies, and More Messes of Help

Housekeeping thing: a few copies of A Mess of Help sent out had lots of 5s in their tables of contents. Let us know if you got one of those, and we’ll send a new one.

1. As we’re getting into the Christmas spirit, The Economist makes a surprising contribution with a survey of the Magi’s reception history. Apparently the men were likely astrologers/sages of some sort, but people found kings more appealing. In medieval times, some strange theologians talk about massive royal retinues encamped outside Bethlehem, etc. And in other strains of the tradition, they were bumbling traveler types, something in between the…

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How “Johnny Football” Taught Me My Love Language

How “Johnny Football” Taught Me My Love Language

I’ve never really connected much with that “5 Love Languages” stuff. Legend has it that if we can figure out what our spouse’s love language is (how he/she best likes to have love communicated) our marriages will be blissful. I don’t remember exactly when my wife and I went through this material together, but it was early in our marriage. I learned from the workbook that my wife likes to receive love most via “gifts” and “acts of service”. That’s a heavy yoke, especially since I am far more skilled in giving and inclined to give the other three –…

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Inheritance

Inheritance

Today, I was working on a rent house—cleaning baseboards and repairing cabinet doors, among other things—and I found myself needing a tool from my truck. I remember standing up and walking out of the door of the rent house and my mind just completely blanking out on the walk to my truck. The very reason why I was going to my truck in the first place vanished momentarily from my mind. Or, at another point, I found myself simply walking into another room and losing my train of thought. And, for whatever reason, the very recognition of this—my cognizance of…

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My Way is a “Crap Song”: Reflections on Regret

My Way is a “Crap Song”: Reflections on Regret

Say what? I was out for a jog this week and I had to stop, take out my earbuds to squeegee out my ears with my fingers, hit rewind, and hear that again. Did Ira Glass just disparage Frank Sinatra? Ira Glass is the creator and executive producer of NPR’s weekly podcast “This American Life”. I was made privy to this can’t-miss weekly series by this Mockingbird post a while back, and I’ve been riveted every week since.

Each week’s podcast features 3 segments of real life Americana stories that are centered on a basic (and usually innocuous) theme. The December…

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From the Magazine: Feast of the Holy Innocents by Vito Aiuto

From the Magazine: Feast of the Holy Innocents by Vito Aiuto

We could not have been more honored to publish Welcome Wagoner Vito Aiuto’s short story in this most recent issue of The Mockingbird. And behold, it comes just in time for Christmas! Order one today!

Matthew Cusick

The wide dirty sky hung above the interstate. The pulsing wipers and the broken stereo. Jon Eddy drives out early in the morning, still dark, the back of the car packed with Christmas gifts and decorations and candies in two brown paper grocery bags; he’s hoping to bring his son something that speaks of Christmas because Christmas has come and gone and it’s not…

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Considering “Our Mommy Problem”

Considering “Our Mommy Problem”

A few weekends ago I traveled to South Carolina to spend a long weekend with six of my closest college friends. Between the seven of us, we left eleven children behind to be cared for by some combination of dads, grandparents and babysitters. The trip was incredibly restful. Even more restful than the naps, the clean home, or the leisurely cups of coffee every morning was the experience of being with a group of people who don’t identify me as or relate to me as my children’s mother. My college friends are scattered coast to coast, and we have never…

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Lonely Ladies and Distracted Dudes: A Few Thoughts on Romantic (and Sexual) Illusion

Lonely Ladies and Distracted Dudes: A Few Thoughts on Romantic (and Sexual) Illusion

There’s a line toward the beginning of Whit Stillman’s Barcelona (above – 2:15 mark) where the protagonist, Ted Boynton, admits to having “a real romantic illusion problem”. He is frustrated that he seems to fall for women based almost exclusively on physical appearance, when what he really wants is “to see the real person, maybe even look into her eyes and see her soul.” He says these words with a completely straight face, and his cousin Fred responds incredulously. It’s a funny interchange, not the least because Ted sounds convinced that this phenomenon, of sexual attraction overwhelming better judgment, is peculiar to him…

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Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash: A Parable of Stifling Perfection

Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash: A Parable of Stifling Perfection

[Mild spoilers follow.] As a writer, I’ve found, you’re always searching for material. A friend’s talking to you about a bad breakup, years of religious doubt and self-recrimination for doubting, a car wreck, DUI, or lost job. Suddenly, once an insight seems to hit you – or even a situation with a certain intellectual appeal – the ideas become all, and their textures, contexts, and the unfortunate people living in them become pared back, leaving you with what feels like the beginnings of a great article, essay, even poem. The real world fades away, and all you’re left with, all you…

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Smoke and Mirrors and Romans 8

Smoke and Mirrors and Romans 8

This one comes to us from Emily Price:

I recently started working for my husband.

This may not be the wisest career or marriage move, but it was borne of necessity. My husband just opened his own law firm. Rather than hire an associate to help, he looked across the breakfast table to yours truly. So, I dusted five years worth of spit-up and Legos off my law degree and set to writing.

Working toward my first deadline, I grew anxious. Like any self-respecting sinner, I projected that anxiety onto someone I love. I started snapping at my husband over every little thing….

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