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Forgiveness

Misplaced Atonement

Misplaced Atonement

Everyone wants an answer for the violence we have witnessed over the past week. You are not going to get that from me. I may not be the most humble person on the planet, but I’m not delusional enough to think I possess some special insight on how to fix things. Besides, my answer will always be turning to Jesus. From what I can tell, people are no longer satisfied with that response.

What I can tell you is that we are asking too much of too few people. We are asking the police to do too much, we are asking…

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The Individual Sufferer and Preaching like a Bad Kid

The Individual Sufferer and Preaching like a Bad Kid

This one comes to us from our friend, Cody Gainous.

I get tasked with the Sunday morning sermon pretty regularly at the parish I serve, even though I’m only the Youth Minister. I’m always grateful for the invitation, and I’m always humbled by the opportunity. Beloved Father Capon says in his excellent The Foolishness of Preaching that “Good preachers should be like bad kids. They ought to be naughty enough to tiptoe up on dozing congregations, steal their bottles of religion pills, spirituality pills, and morality pills and flush them all down the drain.” Well and good, but a bit intimidating…

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When God Closes a Door… (There By the Lake of God Go I)

When God Closes a Door… (There By the Lake of God Go I)

I’ve never been more religious than when God closed a door, literally, in the form of a rejected housing application. It was for a little cottage on the edge of town, a “starter home” for me and my wife-to-be, and it was all but ours until, one miscommunication and a phone call later, I learned that the lease had already been signed by someone else’s eager, sweaty fingers. When the same thing happened again, twice, it became very clear that there was a bearded man in the sky, pulling levers and shutting doors, blessing the broken road that would lead…

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Angels with an Incredible Capacity for Beer: A 1986 Interview with Brennan Manning

Angels with an Incredible Capacity for Beer: A 1986 Interview with Brennan Manning

Before The Babylon Bee, there was The Wittenburg Door, a satirical Christian journal with some serious humor–a cartoon called “Dogs Who Know the Lord”, fake news headlines, a Theologian of the Year (with winners like Xena Warrior Princess and Mister T)–all pointed in cornball fashion at the Church and its bizarre inner- and outer-workings. Our mentor and spirit-guide Robert Farrar Capon was, in fact, a “Keeper of the Door”–he started a column series he called “Pietro and Madeleine,” a theological love story (of sorts). But The Door, as it later became known, also did some very serious interviews. In these interviews, they were both just playing…

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Sending Lady Gaga to Her Room

Sending Lady Gaga to Her Room

Circa 2009, around the time of The Fame Monster, there were very few American high schoolers cool enough to talk down about Lady Gaga. For both girls and guys, she was edgy enough (and inevitable enough, releasing single after single after single) to leave everyone feeling at the very least a distant admiration. She did however possess a particular power in the art classes, one that you wouldn’t see her having on, say, the lacrosse field, and this was because historically speaking art classrooms have always been “interesting” places. Mine was no exception: it was by all accounts an underground church, the…

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The Gospel’s Steady Work of Reversal

The Gospel’s Steady Work of Reversal

David Brooks’ most recent op-ed discusses the late career of Ernest Hemingway, how he became in his later years “a prisoner of his own celebrity.” Hemingway was a famous writer by 25 and by middle age he was simply “playing at being Ernest Hemingway.” Of course, this is where most of us might roll our eyes, and say few are so lucky. It’d be nice to a prisoner to your laurels instead of your demons. But when it comes down to it, Brooks isn’t just talking about fame. He is instead talking about works righteousness in a most literal sense: that becoming righteous (or noteworthy,…

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From the Archives: Rock Bottom Rescue in Merle Haggard’s “How Did You Find Me Here?”

From the Archives: Rock Bottom Rescue in Merle Haggard’s “How Did You Find Me Here?”

Timely one from our “Songs of the Outlaw” series. Rest in peace, Hag. 

As we’ve said before, we’ll say again, if anyone knows about compulsive meandering, if anyone characterizes the triumphs and tribulations of going it on your own, it’s the American outlaw. It’s a unique approach to rebellion, one that’s openly translated freedom as independence, the open range the sanctuary, the “Big City” that won’t “turn me loose and set me free.” This thus leads the cattle-calling rambler anywhere and, anywhere, nowhere. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that all of the Outlaw songs–from Johnny to Willie–are…

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Memory Wounds and Holes in Our Hearts

Memory Wounds and Holes in Our Hearts

But Thomas (who was called Didymus), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas,…

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“I’m New Here: What’s Going On?” A Conference Preview

What a joy it is to host everyone at Calvary St. George’s for the 9th Annual Mockingbird Conference! Things are shaping up for a memorable weekend with great food, excellent speakers, and a topic that any human being in 2016 can appreciate–Relief. For friends who are new to church, new to Mockingbird, new to Christianity, new to New York, here’s a pre-conference word of Relief for you.

We are Mel Smith and Bryan Jarrell, and we’ll be hosting the breakout session “I’m New Here: What’s Going On?” At this session, we’ll talk about The Law, The Gospel, the Bible, everyday life, and Mockingbird’s vision to connect all those things with the human heart. If it’s your first time at a Mockingbird event, if you’ve come to the conference by yourself, or even if you have attended the last 8 and are wondering “what am I doing here?”, join us!

Together we will explore how God’s immeasurable grace intersects with our human experience through the culture, faith expressions, and everyday living. Here at Mockingbird we can seek to explore the threads of truth & grace as we interact with the world around us.

Travel safe, see you next week!

Nothing else in the world matters but the kindness of grace, God’s gift to suffering mortals. ~Jack Kerouac

Pre-register here!

From the Archives: God, Help Us Be Like the Nuns (Thoughts on Scapegoating)

From the Archives: God, Help Us Be Like the Nuns (Thoughts on Scapegoating)

Alejandro and Maria Martinelly of Prince William County, Virginia, knew their son’s affliction all too well, and so they hid the car keys from him. The ruse was effective in keeping him from his third conviction – until one night in August 2010. Fresh into his latest bender, young Carlos A. Martinelly-Montano dug the keys out of his parents’ closet, fired up their Subaru Outback, and went on a joyride. Anyone who has been in debt to, or had a loved one in debt to the rapacious creditor that hounded 23-year-old Carlos knows all too well that no amount of…

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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

Confession as Profession: Love and the Hope of Forgiveness

Confession as Profession: Love and the Hope of Forgiveness

“Somewhere else in The Elder Statesman, Lord Claverton observes that no one confesses where there is no hope of forgiveness.” – Capon

It was one of those mornings. You know, the one with three kids, two of whom are dragging their feet to get ready for the walk to school. My begging and pleading was getting old and so was their concurrent whining. As I watched my seven-year-old struggle to tie his shoe and listened to my eldest whimper about his itchy scarf, the damn broke: “Damn it!”

I squatted down, grabbed the shoelaces and the foot attached to them and growled, “You’re…

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