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Grace in Practice

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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PZ’s Podcast: Cook’d Books


070409_r16088a_p646-320The text is from a leading Presidential candidate, but it applies to two of them — two persons who are ideologically apart but have one main thing in common.

That main thing is: They are exposing the Cook’d Book of life, which is designed — “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” (S. Wonder) — to sign, seal and deliver YOU over to utter captivity and soullessness.

The New Testament is not a world-affirming document. On the contrary, it pits the human being against the world. Or rather, it posits the world as being against us. Our task, an impossible one without Help — “Help!” – The Beatles, 1965 — is to dodge the world. Kerouac wrote that we are born into this world in order to be saved from it.

The Cook’d Book of the world is not only true of political parties. It is true of institutions generally, job environments generally, schools and universities generally (which is why youth is eternally looking for the ‘Mr. Chips’-type altruist — one in a million), you name it.

I’m glad that Bernie and the other one are cutting to the nerve. Je repete: this is not about ideology, it’s about control. And this world’s control is not — I repeat, not — designed to enable and deliver. It is designed to suppress and captivate. LUV U!

When Jesus Brings Cheerios: A Memory for Mother’s Day

When Jesus Brings Cheerios: A Memory for Mother’s Day

Eleven years ago, I was sitting in a senior seminar class with a group of people I had come to know and love. The Southern Studies Department at Ole Miss is as small as one might imagine. And each individual class felt like its own group of buddies.

On this particular afternoon, class was set to start when we noticed that Catherine hadn’t shown up yet. Catherine was the kind of person everyone wanted to be friends with. She loved jazz. She lived in an actual house. And, perhaps most exotically, she was a mother.

I would see Catherine around town in Oxford…

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13 Signs of Bad Pastoral Care

13 Signs of Bad Pastoral Care

Another glimpse into our Church Issue, which is out now! If you haven’t gotten one, order it here. If your beloved but painfully awkward pastor/therapist hasn’t received one, subscribe them here.

How many times have you needed a shoulder to cry on, and got cold moralism, instead? How many times have you dealt the flip side of that same coin? Here is a list for anyone who has ever received counsel or has ever given counsel and wondered what went wrong. They are a paraphrased version from Frank Lake: The Man and His Work, by John Peters, and were compiled by…

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2016 NYC Conference Recordings: Relief!

2016 NYC Conference Recordings: Relief!

Thank you again to everyone who helped put on this year’s conference in NYC, especially our invaluable friends at Calvary St. George’s. Feels rather poetic that a conference about “grace in world of expectation” so exceeded our own. Praise God for that.

We’re once again making the recordings available gratis; we only ask that those who were not able to be there in person consider making a donation to help cover the cost of the event. Download links are followed by an in-line player for each recording (with the exception of Eric Klinenberg’s talk, which was an in-person-only deal and CJ Green’s, which was a technology-is-the-enemy deal)….

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PZ’s Podcast: Mystic Traveler

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What are we all looking for in this life…? The new being, rebirth, meeting your inner child again for the first time. However you name it, whatever you make of it, the truth of reality is this: we all withhold a few things from everyone including and especially from ourselves. We lose so much in the withholding and the repression, which is quite understandable. But there is hope! You can go forward through going backward. Aldous Huxley did it. He became a theological psychologist par excellence, and we can follow his lead. A graced archeological excavation can produce so much in the way of the teleological imagination.


The introduction to this cast is done by Bill Borror and Scott Jones, co-hosts of New Persuasive Words. Scott also hosts The Mockingcast.

A Just Relief: A Conference Breakout Preview

This conference breakout preview comes to us from Raleigh Sadler.


“Do you not care about the orphans?” she asked. “Because if you actually do, then you will support my ministry.” I was at a loss. I simply stared back at her as she continued to take me on her “guilt trip.” Though she was asking me to do something “good,” I couldn’t help but feel bad.

Oftentimes, conversations about “relief” can make us feel anything but relief. If you are honest with yourself, you will have to admit that at some point, you’ve felt this way.

For this reason, many of us resist following the latest social justice trends. Though we are not against “digging wells” or “fighting human trafficking,” we struggle with exhaustion at the very thought of it.

This year at the 9th annual mockingbird conference, I will be leading a discussion entitled “A Just Relief: How the Gospel produces Justice.” Using the parable of the Good Samaritan as our paradigm, we will discover how we can use law and Gospel to radically change how we approach social justice.

In this breakout, we will discuss shifting our motivation from law to grace, how “rest” in the gospel leads us to good “works,” and how to free your church to enjoy doing mercy and Justice in your community. See you next week!

Pre-register here – Walk-ins are always welcome but Tuesday 4/12 is last day to guarantee food.

“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!

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.

Madman Across the Water: Found in Failure – Aaron Zimmerman

The first of the Tyler talks is here! As you’ll see, Mboard president Aaron Zimmerman kicked things off in style. Many thanks to all who helped put the event together, especially Matt Magill, and to Mark Babikow for filming.

Madman Across the Water: Moses & Getting Found in Failure – Aaron Zimmerman from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Sing Unto the Lord a New (Cover) Song: Bonnaroo Nu-Grass and Dante’s Baptism of Memory

Sing Unto the Lord a New (Cover) Song: Bonnaroo Nu-Grass and Dante’s Baptism of Memory

Here’s one from Christopher Bowhay:

As is the case for so many, I blame actor/comedian/banjo player Ed Helms for my crippling addiction to bluegrass covers of rock songs and, by extension, for an intensive existential exploration.

It all started in June of 2015, when, accompanying my teenage daughter to her second Bonnaroo festival, we passed by the “That” tent (as opposed to the helpfully named “This” and “The Other” tents and the “Which” and “What” stages). The soulful strums of mandolins, string basses, and guitars that drew us to what we discovered was the “Ed Helm’s Bluegrass Situation Superjam.” Having attended only…

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PZ’s Podcast: How Do (Men) Get to Heaven?

PZ’s Podcast: How Do (Men) Get to Heaven?

EPISODE 214: How Do (Men) Get to Heaven?

There is this observable difference in the way most men and most women process romantic love affairs. Men tend — with exceptions — to live in the past and in past memories of love, especially as they grow older. Women tend — with exceptions — to desire to live in the present, with openness to the future, in the experience of romantic love.

The song that opens this cast, “How Do I Get To Heaven”, performed by Dave Mason, is a touching instance of the male processing. The lyric lurches, with no warning, from…

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