Bible
What We Want/What We Get: Imagination and Holy Week

What We Want/What We Get: Imagination and Holy Week

The friendly overtures of a person whom we no longer love, overtures which strike us, in our indifference to her, as excessive, would perhaps have fallen a long way short of satisfying our love. Those tender speeches, that invitation or acceptance, we think only of the pleasure which they would have given us, and not of all those speeches and meetings by which we would have wished to see them immediately followed, which we should, as likely as not, simply by our avidity for them, have precluded from ever happening. So that we can never be certain that the good…

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Mockingbird at the Movies: Noah

Mockingbird at the Movies: Noah

Director Darren Aronofsky’s new biblical epic, Noah, is wild – think of it as the 300 of Bible stories, an exaggeratedly Aronofskyan Silent Spring, or simply Kon-Tiki 6.0. It’s the director at his most ambitious yet, no longer content with harrowing tales of addiction or dark meditations on doppelgängers. His reach is as high as the firmament, and his grasp only slightly behind. The movie’s received a good deal of the wrong kind of attention from Christian viewers, who cite its (admittedly generous) artistic license, veering away from the original Bible story. Unfortunately, the biblical version contains few details, so some amount of improvisation…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Psalm Chapter Fifty One Verse Twelve

Hopelessly Devoted: Psalm Chapter Fifty One Verse Twelve

This morning’s devotion comes from Simeon Zahl.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:12, NRSV)

The psalmist brings two things to bear here:

First, it is okay to ask God for joy. Joy is good. The reality of sin and of human limitations, and the truth of the cost of atonement, are no excuse for being grim and boring. Quite the reverse! Secure in God and His salvation, the true and natural way is to laugh at ourselves and at this world, and to seek and find the joy in it. God’s world…

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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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Francis Spufford on Christianity’s Attention to Waste

Francis Spufford on Christianity’s Attention to Waste

In reading the gospels, it is difficult to separate the person Jesus from the images and stories that have been built up in our own memories and readings. It is hard to shell, to un-husk, the historical account from the gloss that our re-readings and re-tellings have rendered. It is impossible not to heroize with story the death and resurrection of a man who is also God’s son. To make His crucifixion the Crucifixion.

But to do so, as (our conference speaker!) Francis Spufford says here, is to miss the point of Christianity’s unique position on the everyday tragedies of life,…

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Bible Tuesdays: The Serpent in the Wilderness

Bible Tuesdays: The Serpent in the Wilderness

It’s become fashionable in some Protestant circles to talk about inspiring virtue not through dry rules or frustrated self-discipline, but through a vision of the moral life. ‘Living into the Kingdom’, or looking at a beautiful vision of God’s restoration in the eschaton and ‘mapping backwards’ (see Ethan’s TFA piece in The Mockingbird) to see how we act in light of God’s redemption are ideas and phrases enjoying broad use in American Christianity. Even those who haven’t read the intellectual mainstays of this idea (Wright, Smith, etc) still implicitly think this way. I know I’d rather show my children Caillou’s…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Jeremiah Chapter One Verses One through Nine

Hopelessly Devoted: Jeremiah Chapter One Verses One through Nine

This morning’s devotion, following the Lectionary guide of the Devotional, comes from Andrew Pearson. And–did you know?–the Devotional is now available as an eBook? Check it out here.

…Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all…

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Another Week Ends: Amy Chua’s Three Traits for Success, Nietzsche’s Subversion of Atheism, Why Fun Is Fun, The Eighth-Grade Ubermensch, Dostoevsky’s Internet Anxiety and Lena Dunham’s Eden

Another Week Ends: Amy Chua’s Three Traits for Success, Nietzsche’s Subversion of Atheism, Why Fun Is Fun, The Eighth-Grade Ubermensch, Dostoevsky’s Internet Anxiety and Lena Dunham’s Eden

1. What happens when you combine an unshakeable superiority complex with deep insecurity? Probably a nervous breakdown in mid-life, or Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan. But Amy Chua (of “Tiger Mother” fame) asks us to guess again. The real answer is… success.

For those unfamiliar with her work on hyper-controlling parenting (using that adjective as value-neutrally as possible), it’s ruffled our feathers before. And her new book on success – with its threefold foundation of superiority, insecurity, and impulse control – promises to do so again, ht ER:

Some have denounced the book as racist. This loaded term is often bandied about in discussions about culture…

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NYC Preview: The Terrible Parables of Christ

NYC Preview: The Terrible Parables of Christ

I can’t believe Jesus. He said some things that just can’t be true. In fact, almost everything he said can’t be true. Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like some it: He said that he came to fulfill the law. I like that. He said to love others and to love God. That’s tough (and maybe impossible) but it at least sounds good. It sounds right. But some of the patently untrue things he said also just sound wrong to my Christian ears. He told stories that seemed to say if you didn’t have your act together, you’d get…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Second Samuel Chapter Twelve Verse Seven

Hopelessly Devoted: Second Samuel Chapter Twelve Verse Seven

This morning’s entry from the Mockingbird Devotional comes from Sean Norris.

Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7, NIV)

Life is a game of denial. In fact, I would argue that most of the things we fill our day with are, or at least can be, tools for denial. Work, play, shopping, television, relationships, hobbies, philosophies—anything can be used to manipulate the reality of things gone wrong. It would not be too far to say that Christianity itself has often been used as a tool of reality-rejection.

People often have a sober view of themselves around the time of…

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Everything Is Awesome: Grace in The LEGO Movie

Everything Is Awesome: Grace in The LEGO Movie

Some thoughts on grace and the new LEGO movie come from Michael Belote, author of the wonderful reboot:Christianity blog and author of Rise of the Time Lords, doubtless the best (review here) geeky intro to Christian doctrine available.

Something weird is happening in Hollywood. Just four months ago, the world was introduced to Frozen, a children’s movie chock-full of theological nuance. As I wrote at the time, I felt like this was the best religious movie in years, and figured it would be quite a while until I saw something similar.

Boy was I wrong.

A few weeks ago, I took my sons (who are…

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Lecturing the Prodigal Son(s) in The NY Times

Lecturing the Prodigal Son(s) in The NY Times

A few thoughts on some recent Internet Prodigal Son banter, from David Zahl and Will McDavid:

As much as I admire The NY Times, it’s not where I go to read about grace. You? And yet, David Brooks was back at it again this week, talking about the parable of the prodigal son(s) and endorsing grace as an essential factor in crafting social policy for those who’ve squandered their inheritance/potential/goodwill. Check it out:

We live in a divided society in which many of us in the middle- and upper-middle classes are like the older brother and many of the people who drop…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Joshua Chapter Six Verses Fifteen through Twenty Five

Hopelessly Devoted: Joshua Chapter Six Verses Fifteen through Twenty Five

This morning’s Hopelessly comes from the one and only Bryan Jarrell.

Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day. (Joshua 6:15-25, NIV)

Joshua 6 tells the story of the fall of Jericho, one of the most spectacular and disturbing stories in the Old Testament. You know…

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Hopelessly Devoted (to Tony): No Longer an Orphan

Hopelessly Devoted (to Tony): No Longer an Orphan

Recently, while serving in Kampala, Uganda with one of my favorite ministries, Sixty Feet, I was reminded of a story I once heard from my friend, Jim Gash. The story is called Starfish and goes like this:

Once upon a time, there was a man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of…

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Nick Cave on Why Most Love Songs Are Hate Songs

Nick Cave on Why Most Love Songs Are Hate Songs

Dr. Cave, again, in vivid form, tells us about love. This time he delves into literary philosophy of Lorca, and the term “duende,” which means the power of spontaneity, the language of the heart, and also the Portuguese term “saudade,” which is a deep, rooted longing for something/someone that is absent. In thinking of rock’n’roll music, Nick Cave believes that a true love song is not true without this saudade. Any other “love song” without this longing, is not a love song, but a fraud, a “hate song.”

And then there’s his very carnal description of the Song of Songs. Take…

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