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Death


The Sultry Sounds of Vin Scully and the “Jack Rabbit Resurrection”

88-year-old Vin Scully has been doing Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers’ games for 60+ years. He’s always been the “Garrison Keillor of Sports Broadcasting” – weaving yarn after yarn between pitches to keep listeners engaged (the vast majority of his work having been on radio). In this, his final season, Scully has become a social media phenomenon with this true tale he told in a Giant-Dodger game last week. Madison Bumgarner (pitcher pictured here) and his wife, are the story’s hero/heroine:

The Good News About Death: Your Story Can’t Make It Out Alive – Sarah Condon

Continuing with the videos of our Tyler talks, here’s Sarah’s keynote from Saturday. Can’t wait to hear what she cooks up for NYC!

The Good News About Death: Your Story Can’t Make It Out Alive – Sarah Condon from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

The Relief of Grief: A Conference Breakout Preview

Here’s our latest preview of a conference breakout session! For more relief, honesty and good news, join us during our upcoming conference in NYC, April 14-16.

interview-with-the-vampire

If I’m completely honest with you, which I typically am, I’d have to confess that death scares me. Whether it’s walking through the grief of losing loved ones or facing the Grim Reaper’s bony finger pointed in my own direction, death makes me quake in the deepest and most intimate fibers of my being. On my worst days, I’m quite certain that if Lestat de Lioncourt himself knocked on my front door, I’d not only willingly open said door, but cast my very person upon him begging for both bite and bodice.

I know I’m not alone with these feelings about death–both the fear of and the grief from. While you may not have contemplated embracing vampiric life, there are things you do to run from, ignore, suppress, etc., those feelings of fear and grief brought on by the reality of death. Whether it’s by the pursuit of healthy life and healthy body or by taking on helicopter relationality with all those whom we love and can’t bare to lose, we try, by our own strength, to keep death at bay….at far, far, far bay.

The good news lies apart from The Vampire Chronicles and outside of ourselves and our meager and feable attemps to protect ourselves and others (and that in and of iself is good news, too). The good news lies in Jesus Christ and that he says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Mt. 5:4). And I’d like to be bold and add to that, “Blessed are those who are afraid, for they shall be comforted, too.”

So, this is what my break out session, “The Relief of Grief,” is all about: the Word of Jesus Christ (who is the Word), the Gospel of the jusification of sinners, that comes to us from with-out us in to the midst of our grief and fear brought on by death to bring us true and real comfort and relief.

So come and join me; Vampires welcome.

Pre-register here!

Hopelessly Devoted: John Twelve Verse Twenty Four

Hopelessly Devoted: John Twelve Verse Twenty Four

This one comes to us from Luke Roland.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Lately I’ve been meeting with a lot of clergy. They have unanimously said the same thing to me, “you are going through a slow death-like experience!” I feel like I should start preparing for some sort of weird metaphorical funeral.

Here lies Luke Roland the dearly departed. Or as Richard Pryor so eloquently says:

“We are gathered here today on this sorrowful occasion to say goodbye to the…

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On Suicide: Love to the Loveless Shown

On Suicide: Love to the Loveless Shown

Last week one of our very dearest and oldest friends killed himself. And so we are going through all of the motions that such an event brings on. We’ve spent most nights in the kitchen weeping and talking. We’ve made gin and tonics. I’ve watched sad internet videos and cried more. We have prayed.

My favorite memory of our friend is from years ago. He was running an auction at my husband’s first church. And there were some very expensive pearls on the block. My husband, then boyfriend, was bidding against a parishioner, and our friend stopped the parishioner and said,…

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Listening to Lamentations

Listening to Lamentations

During my last year of college, I found myself in a church service, distracted as always by floral patterns on the carpet and surrounded by what churchgoers would have called “worship,” but what heathen millennials would have called “Kidz Bop live.” Spotlights swept across the crowd, and everyone was dancing and singing that if Jesus went to the left, well, then we’d all go to the left! The crowd shuffled accordingly. And if he went to the right, then off we’d go again.

It was winter when I walked into that auditorium, and outside students were dropping like flies. By that…

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A Deathbed Summary of the Main Message (of Jesus)

A Deathbed Summary of the Main Message (of Jesus)

Last year, the story of Stanford neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi went viral–and for good reason. The 36 year old Dr. Kalanithi was dying of lung cancer and had written an article for Stanford Medicine, in which he addressed his infant daughter in such moving terms that it feels trite to try to describe them. It turns out that the essay was merely an excerpt of a book-length reflection, When Breath Becomes Air, which was published posthumously last month. Suffice to say, it will leave you in a puddle on the ground (his widow’s epilogue – Oh My Lord). Sarah commented powerfully…

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Monty Williams’ Graceful Eulogy of His Wife

NBA Assistant coach Monty Williams lost his wife to a head on collision with a wrong way driver in Oklahoma City last week.

The full 7+ minutes here

From The Archives: A Lenten Reflection on the Isenheim Altarpiece

From The Archives: A Lenten Reflection on the Isenheim Altarpiece

Matthias Grunewald’s Crucifixion, one of the panels of the Isenheim Altarpiece, was commissioned for the church hospital of St. Anthony in Colmar, France, which specialized in comforting those dying with skin diseases.

Grunewald kept the background of this powerful piece of religious art intentionally dark to highlight the horrific scene: especially Christ’s smashed feet, his contorted arms, and twisted hands. The cross is bowed to demonstrate Jesus bearing the sins of the world. The most shocking part of the piece, however, is that Jesus also has a skin disease, and his loincloth is the same as the wrappings worn by the…

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The Prosperous Gospel of Stage 4 Cancer

The Prosperous Gospel of Stage 4 Cancer

In church yesterday, we read the “Temptation in the Wilderness,” the passage where Jesus is tempted to turn stones to bread, to throw himself down from the Temple in a spectacle, to kneel to the devil in exchange for infinite power. Jesus has fasted forty days, but he does not waver.

The sermon at our church focused more on the form (and less the content) of the interchange, and distinguished the sentence structure of the devil’s temptations, versus the sentence structure of Christ’s replies. I had never noticed this before, but each of the tempter’s promises are conditional: “If…then…” If you just do X, you will have Y.

I suppose I…

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The Ash Wednesday Hit-Parade

It turns out that Ash Wednesday has inspired some of our favorite posts over the years–a bit ironic/hypocritical, given that the day doesn’t exactly encourage human pride. Nevertheless, in the spirit of Christian freedom, here’s a compilation of sorts to kick-start our observance of Lent together.

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-final-trailer

Anonymous posts, wrestling with the link between Ash Wednesday and the lack of rest:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:1)

Reflecting on Ash Wednesday itself:

B-MVa1-CcAE8JFg“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matt. 6:16-18)

Ash Wednesday and Culture:

To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. (1 Cor 9:22)

A pair of Ash Wednesday sermons (audio only):

Ash Wednesday Morning – Catherine Abbey Hodges

ash wednesday morningFrom her collection Instead of Sadness:

The fat candle in the kitchen window burns down
like a rose spilling open. We light a scrap of paper
from the flame, and with the ashes, a little olive oil,
cross each other’s foreheads. Margo’s in the hospital
again. I stop to see her on my way to school,
go straight from there to class. My students have come
from their night shifts at the nursing home
and Wal-Mart, from Mass, from dropping off the baby
at daycare. They shuffle pages, share staplers.
We look into each other’s faces as they hand me their essays.
Who knows how long we’ve got inside these dusty skins.
We’re burning down together, ashes mingling already.