Grace in Practice

The Mercy of Heaven: A Reflection on Jürgen Moltmann’s Death-Row Penpal

The Mercy of Heaven: A Reflection on Jürgen Moltmann’s Death-Row Penpal

Here at Mbird we spend a good deal of time hemming and hawing against the myth of humanism – that we are free to shape our own destinies, unconstrained, or mostly unconstrained, by our past, circumstances, and vices – unbound, that is, to our deeply distorted wills. The facts dismantle this myth quickly: the fact that the worst human atrocities have been committed in our most advanced century, that New Year’s resolutions quickly dwindle into February guilt, that the decades in our lives when we’re advancing and progressing tend to be the most unhappy ones. When people actually do change for the better, it…

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Farewell to Parks and Recreation

Farewell to Parks and Recreation

Earlier this week, Parks and Recreation concluded after a remarkable seven-season run. While other outlets have covered the show’s legacy in far greater detail than I can provide (check out Uproxx and Grantland for that), I wouldn’t feel right if I missed this opportunity to eulogize a show that has meant so much to me over the past several years. Parks and Rec might not have been as smart as Arrested Development or as laugh-out-loud funny as The Office, but it had an over-abundance of what many modern sitcoms lack—heart. In many ways, Parks and Rec might have had too…

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Darn You ESPN!….and Get Thee Behind Me Disney!

Darn You ESPN!….and Get Thee Behind Me Disney!

I’m struggling a lot with these two true, inspiring, triumph of the human spirit distance runner stories that Disney and her sports arm (ESPN) have perpetrated upon us this week as paradoxical bookends to the low anthropology/high Christology that I have come to love about Ash Wednesday. This past weekend, ESPN master human interest storyteller, Tom Rinaldi, narrated one of his best sports mini-docs with the story of Kayla Montgomery, who won three North Carolina high school distance running state championships in 2014, despite running without being able to feel her legs! (Yeah, the story is as good as it…

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The 21 Beheaded Egyptians Make Me Proud to Be a Christian

The 21 Beheaded Egyptians Make Me Proud to Be a Christian

From Cairo to Rome and beyond, the reaction to the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians by ISIS has been swift and profound: anger and condemnation, sadness and solidarity. Yet, as I have thought over this horrific event, another emotion has swelled within in me: pride. For while the Islamic State considers itself to be following in the footsteps of its religious founder and leader (see here,  here and here), the 21 Egyptians were undoubtedly following in the footsteps of theirs.

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent…

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PZ’s Podcast: Dualism Clinic with Dennis Wheatley (plus, the Ending of The Devil Rides Out)

PZ’s Podcast: Dualism Clinic with Dennis Wheatley (plus, the Ending of The Devil Rides Out)

EPISODE 182

It’s not that one’s “dialing back” on insights hard won from the last five years. No, it’s just that you have to be true to the whole of experience. And experience teaches that monism — the “bulk” picture of what we see and face — requires an element of enhancement. That element comes under the heading “dualism”.

Thus when Kerouac, a faithful Catholic, saw through the overly acute dualism of his upbringing in favor of a monism derived from Dwight Goddard, he was making a necessary correction. On the other hand, that correction was not sufficient to break every bondage. Far from it! So at…

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Scientific Wedding Vows and the Biggest Lie (and Truth) of Them All

Scientific Wedding Vows and the Biggest Lie (and Truth) of Them All

Valentines Week is upon us and with it, a fresh crop of articles on how to love and be loved, never a dull subject. First up, an article in The NY Times posing the timely question “Can Scientific Relationship Advice Save Your Marriage?”, in which couples are profiled who have chosen to base their wedding vows on the scientific study of relationships. Before you venture an answer, let me say that I found the honesty refreshing–at least these couples take the occasion seriously enough to acknowledge their true object of worship. On other hand, the vows dictated by ‘science’ sound…

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Love and Basketball – Trinitarian Style

Love and Basketball – Trinitarian Style

The following comes from friend, fellow Atlanta Hawks fan, and Georgia Tech Anglican Campus Fellowship priest, Collin Setterberg:

There’s something about the game of basketball that elicits thoughts of the divine. The three point shot, the three-point play, the three-man weave, the triple double…you get the point. Tonight I’m watching the Atlanta Hawks live for the first time this season. Like most people who live in Atlanta, I haven’t been super “into” the Hawks; that is, until recently. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about the team this year, their unselfish play and beautiful style of basketball. So after lots of…

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PZ’s Podcast: Dualism Clinic with James Bernard

PZ’s Podcast: Dualism Clinic with James Bernard

We’ve gotten some feedback about our podcasts no longer automatically refreshing in either iTunes or on mobile devices (since iTunes’ last software update). We’re working on a fix for phones, but if your iTunes hasn’t refreshed PZP or The Mockingpulpit since November, click here for a solution.

EPISODE 181

Simeon Zahl has recently confirmed an insight that’s been forced on me from time to time, whether I like it or not. Simeon said that “dualism has a limited but necessary role in experience.” What I think he meant is that while transcendence and monism are accurate modes of understanding and engaging with…

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The Lame Shall Enter First: Grace and Weakness in Flannery O’Connor

Getting close to the end of our video rollout. This one comes from the incomparable Mr. McD:

The Lame Shall Enter First: Grace and Weakness in Flannery O’Connor – Will McDavid from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Grace in Sports (and Practice): Jacob Jarvis and Ohio St. Football

In preparing a new series we’re offering at my church, I was reminded of this post from a few years ago about Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer. The man experienced a breakdown following his team’s loss to Alabama in 2009, enough to warrant him stepping away from coaching for a year. One recent interview indicated that indeed things have been going much better for him, personally, since coming back to coach at OSU. That he managed to win another National Championship on the other side of such a wake-up call, strikes me as fantastic news. Much better, at least, than hearing it was simply the product of a return to (old) form. His daughter even reports that they now speak on the phone “five times a day.” Which is to say, the support and connection to his family is apparently stronger than ever, and his work has not suffered for it. But best of all was discovering the video below, which displays just how much Urban’s new set of priorities have trickled over into the lives of his players and, especially, Jacob Jarvis and his younger brother. As Jacob wheels onto the field, holding hands with the players on the team, I couldn’t help but think: “Now that’s imputation, which is love.”

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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Mining Netflix: Performancism and The School of Rock

Mining Netflix: Performancism and The School of Rock

Did you watch the Golden Globes on Sunday? One of the biggest stories from this year was the accolades given to Boyhood, an epic-of-the-ordinary that took 12 years to film. We wrote about Boyhood back when it came out, and if you read that post you’ll get a sense of why its director, Richard Linklater, won top honors on Sunday. Oddly enough, though, as Linklater was bestowed his award, my twitter feed was not filled with applause for Boyhood, but for another project of his: 2003’s School of Rock.

Why in the world would School of Rock be so well remembered over a…

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