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Party of Five and the God of Party Poopers

Party of Five and the God of Party Poopers

When life gets tough, I like to watch other people’s lives get tougher. In Germany or Avenue Q, this is called shadenfreude; in America, this is called haphazardly engaging in political discourse on social media, or watching just about any popular TV drama. Forgoing the Covfefe hoo-ha, I recently committed instead to a teen soap opera — a precious genre rife with death and tragedy and youth pregnancy scares.

Several episodes deep into a show like Party of Five (1994-2000) and my day-to-day seems pretty alright. The walls begin to lean blessedly outward instead of in. I can breathe, and I…

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Giddy Godless Weddings

Giddy Godless Weddings

’Tis the season.

More than any other time of the year people are celebrating their connection in marriage. Having aged into “friends of Mom and Dad” status, my wife and I have been to many weddings in the last few years. We’ve noticed that this ceremony, which was languishing in our culture, has been enlivened in recent years by my generation’s children getting married.

These days the act of marriage is at best deferred, but definitely its inevitability has been diminished. Weddings happen, but fewer, later — and these long-planned, very expensive, highly produced gatherings are pretty programmed affairs.

But the real story is…

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Working For Dad

Working For Dad

Just in time for Father’s Day, this one was written by Julian Brooks.

My first summer home from Bible College left me with four months to get to work and save some money for the year’s upcoming tuition. Thankfully I had a job lined up and a place to stay that would allow me to save some money. Even so, I was still going to come up short on what was needed to cover the cost for another year of school.

My dad told me before the summer began that whether I worked or took time off to spend with family and…

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Shame as a Motivational Technique

Shame as a Motivational Technique

In Tom Verducci’s entertaining book, The Cub’s Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, he describes an incident very early in skipper Joe Maddon’s career. In 1986, Maddon was managing the Double-A Midland Angels in Texas. They were a bad team who had just suffered another bad loss. Maddon was apoplectic. He found a newspaper stand, purchased a variety of papers, and began cutting out the classified ads. Later, he taped up these “Help Wanted” advertisements all over the clubhouse, including on the backs of bathroom stalls. The message was clear: “If you’re…

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The Girls of Whitehaven: Love and Friend Requests in Cyber Space

The Girls of Whitehaven: Love and Friend Requests in Cyber Space

In 2009 I was invited to join “Facebook.” I already knew all about it, because my best friend from high school had gone to Harvard, where I had visited her and had seen it in 1974, in her freshman room. Back then, “Facebook” was paper and had all the Radcliffe girls listed in it.

It was mostly a catalog of pictures. Many of those pictures were of Groucho Marx — those who did not submit photos were represented by the specter of the huge mustache, glasses and cigar. This mid-century Facebook was a proto-dating service. High tech as it was — Xeroxed (versus mimeographed) and mass produced, I…

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The King of Dissonance

The King of Dissonance

Well, I’ve been taking up DZ’s advice and making my way through Harriet Lerner’s slim little power-punch of a book, Why Won’t You Apologize? (He actually left it on my desk before the sabbatical…Soooo, did he mean for me to read it? Did I say, or not say, something?) The book is a powerful glimpse into all the strategies and self-deceptions we have around our wrongdoing–on what counts as an apology, and on what keeps us from doing it. As Dave mentioned, Lerner keys in on the prime impulse that makes the non-apologizer a non-apologizer: the need to be perfect.

Some people are so hard…

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A New Musical, an Old Story: Amélie on Broadway

A New Musical, an Old Story: Amélie on Broadway

Readers of the blog may be familiar with the 2001 French film Amélie, an indie love story powered by actor Audrey Tautou’s impish smile and director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s whimsical storytelling. It’s on Netflix right now–if you’ve got time this week, put the kids to bed, snuggle up with a loved one, pop open a bottle of wine, and enjoy a bit of that inimitable French joie de vivre. 

Once you’ve caught up by seeing the movie, you can join the rest of the viewers in confusion over the reality that Amélie is now a musical. Attendees at last week’s NYC conference could have taken the N train to…

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An Un-Earnable Love and the Tragic Death of Performance: "Emotional Stuff" on 3 Mics

An Un-Earnable Love and the Tragic Death of Performance: “Emotional Stuff” on 3 Mics

This reflection comes from Julian Brooks.

Lately I’ve been on a standup comedy binge thanks to the power of Netflix, and I recently stumbled upon Neal Brennan’s special, 3 Mics. For those of you that don’t know, Neal Brennan was the co-writer of Chappelle’s Show oh too many years ago and has since been quietly writing behind the scenes for several other comedy shows.

The special is fantastic in its own right. As the title suggests, there are three mics set up on stage for Neal when the show opens. Each mic represents a different part of the show. One mic for witty one-liners…

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The Beautiful Truth of Collateral Beauty

The Beautiful Truth of Collateral Beauty

In the Gospel reading appointed for Good Friday, Pilate asks Jesus, “What is truth?” He seems to really want to know. He seems to be searching for an answer to explain this bruised and beaten Jew standing before him and the chaotic scene outside in his courtyard. And the truth is what we come to church seeking each Good Friday. With Pilate we ask, “What is truth?” We show up before God on the day commemorating Christ’s death for us, asking such questions as, Why was this necessary? Why did God have to die for us? Why would God die for…

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Please Help the Cause Against (Middle Age Male) Loneliness

Please Help the Cause Against (Middle Age Male) Loneliness

The plan was to hit some tennis balls before heading to dinner. Take advantage of the beautiful weather, maybe grab a drink al fresco on the way to the restaurant. Sounds awesome, I nodded, and I meant it. They always have a blast together, my wife and her friends.

I didn’t feel left out. Nor did I begrudge putting the kids down on my own. I was glad this was happening. So too, I’d wager, were the other dads involved. But that didn’t mean we’d follow suit. Occasionally we talk about organizing a male-only outing, but nothing has ever materialized. Which,…

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Can Love Survive Addiction and Co-Dependency?

This is a serious honor. We’ve received permission from filmmaker Kurt Neale to post his incredible new documentary, Ask: Can Love Survive Addiction and Co-Dependency?, here on Mockingbird. As you’ll see, he and his crew have given us an enormous gift, not just to those of us who’ve experienced the fearful realities of addiction and co-dependency, but to anyone who has drawn breath in the world described in Romans 7. Not to mention anyone who’s come into contact with what Andrew Sullivan calls “this generation’s AIDS crisis”. You could almost call it Grace in Addiction: The Movie. That is, the whole thing brims with honesty and humanity and compassion and, yes, real hope–the Polyphonic Spree is just icing on the cake.

Naturally, the film contains mature subject matter and language. Viewer discretion is advised.

P.S. As you’ll see, this is a work of art ideally suited for discussion. If you’re interested, I know Kurt and co are open to arranging screenings around the country. You can contact him via his website.

P.P.S. If it all sounds a tad on the heavy-side, fast forward to minute 1:19 for a hilarious Easter egg.

How Did I Get Here: Breakdowns in IKEA and Other Tales from an Average and Foreign Life

How Did I Get Here: Breakdowns in IKEA and Other Tales from an Average and Foreign Life

I’m standing in IKEA, and I am shattered.

It’s not often one has an existential crisis in the checkout lane of a Swedish furniture store in the suburbs of Sydney–I think–but it happened to me, and very recently. In the twenty minutes (that felt like an eternity) that I spent behind the cart holding my two young children and a mountain of decorative crap, I came to question every #blessed gift and decision that got me to this exact point in the universe: to this store, to this country, to these children, to this marriage, to this God.

How’s that for a…

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