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Grace in Practice

Why Won’t You Apologize?

Why Won’t You Apologize?

“Okay,” [Charlotte] conceded. “Anything I did that was wrong, I apologize for.

“But,” she added, addressing Alice’s receding form with increasing volume as Alice got farther down the stairs, “anything I did that was not wrong, I don’t apologize for!”

There are at least four reasons why this little scene from The Last Days of Disco has been replaying itself in my head this past week. First, and most embarrassingly, I found myself issuing just such a non-apology to someone close to me the other day. I had made a boneheaded scheduling mistake that had seriously inconvenienced this person (again), and needed…

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Seeing Upside Down, Pt 2: The Beauty of Failure in Movies (and Life) – Ethan Richardson

Talk number three from our “Grace on the Big Screen” event in Dallas is here! Click here to watch the first part (tho’ both stand alone).

Seeing Upside Down – Part Two: The Beauty of Failure in Movies (and Life) – Ethan Richardson from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Sit and Watch as Tears Go By

Sit and Watch as Tears Go By

Mockingbird has several shibboleths; one is the word, “abreaction.” Type that into the search on this website, and you will come up with a slew of great articles about it or containing the term. Go ahead, do it, I’ll wait.

See, I told you.

In the abridged version of Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology, Lake defines abreaction this way:

“A technique employed in psychoanalytic therapy by which repressed emotions, which belong to earlier and usually painful situations, are relived vividly and with feeling, thus lessening the emotional tension caused by inner conflict and its repression. “

My version of that would go something like this. You know when you hear…

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Seeing Upside Down Pt 1: The Down-and-Out Hero and Hollywood’s Love for the Lost

First of the talks from the Dallas event last month (“Grace on the Big Screen”) is here! What an incredible time that was. Many thanks as always to Mark Babikow for making the trip and capturing it all on tape:

Seeing Upside Down – Part One: The Down-and-Out Hero and Hollywood’s Love for the Lost – Ethan Richardson from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

SHADOWLANDS, Debra Winger, Anthony Hopkins, 1993, (c) Savoy Pictures

Super Bowl LI Postscript: Joy and Pain, That’s the Deal

Fact. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever. Fact. Super Bowl 51: to rehash it would be to diminish it.  To explain how exceptional Tom Brady and the Pats were at the end (if we are talking human beings, celebrities, biggest stage) would be to diminish them. Hear this out: The arguably greatest QB in history, before Sunday, just orchestrated the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.  That’s not hyperbole. That’s what happened.

Cut to my very-much-in-Atlanta family room with all of our offspring fully present in full Falcon regalia. Third quarter: Falcons up 28-3. What? No really, seriously? We were…

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Mockingbird on a Wire: Grace Across the Church Divide

Mockingbird on a Wire: Grace Across the Church Divide

We’re humbled (by which I mean, deeply flattered) to offer up this generous contribution from Prof. Matthew Milliner, who also happens to be speaking at our upcoming NYC Conference (4/27-29):

I imagine there are some enthusiastic Mockingbird recruits out there, but I feel drafted. Visiting the Limelight Marketplace – a onetime church turned legendary nightclub turned bourgeois boutique (which advertises a “slice of heaven” from its gourmet pizza shop) – was my Protestant rock bottom. Limelight is not far from where I had attended Father Richard John Neuhaus’ funeral, who had been keen (as he was everyone) to see me come…

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Denzel Washington plays Troy Maxson and Viola Davis plays Rose Maxson in Fences from Paramount Pictures. Directed by Denzel Washington from a screenplay by August Wilson.

Fathers, Sons, Law, and Grace in August Wilson’s Fences

My mother and father always attempted to instill into me and my brothers an appreciation for culture. Mom was and remains extremely well-read in classic literature, hailing Steinbeck as her favorite; she enjoyed foreign cinema and took me (while in the womb) to an Ingmar Bergman film festival; she could reference renowned plays and decided to middle-name me after Neil Simon; and her record collection lined the living room perimeter containing everything from Funkadelic to Simon & Garfunkel, Temptations, Barbara Streisand, The Police, Rick James, etc…

But I think the most significant (though at the time not fully appreciated) exposure came…

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The Immigration of Our Hearts

The Immigration of Our Hearts

A few weeks ago I was on a plane bound for a church retreat, when the guy next to me struck up a conversation with me about what I do for living.

Immediately he wanted to tell me about his own walk of faith. He had been raised in India as a Hindu and his family moved to England when he was a small boy. He had lost the religion of his childhood and expressed to me that he was now “very into” Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now.

“It is interesting,” he went on to explain to me, “how people are…

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PZ’s Podcast: Do the Bus Stop

PZ’s Podcast: Do the Bus Stop

Episode 227: Do the Bus Stop

The animus expressed in connection with the Inauguration has made me think about events that happened almost 47 years ago. The catalyst was the U.S. invasion of Cambodia, and then Kent State. Everyone went wild.

A few of us were conservatives then. (Don’t blame me, please. It’s just a statement “du fait”.) And did we get clobbered!

One night five or six of us were having lunch in Adams House. That particular residence hall was “crawling” with SDS (i.e., Students for a Democratic Society). We had somehow forgotten about that. All of a sudden, our table in the refectory was surrounded by yelling SDS’ers….

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Lines of Discord and Lines of Love

Lines of Discord and Lines of Love

This weekend my newsfeed was either full of photos of women marching or long rants criticizing the women who marched. Divisiveness it seems, is the rule for the day. Even when we choose not to participate in something we must explain to everyone who did why they are clearly wrong. Jesus must be really proud of us.

Of course, the marches drew their own kind of lines in the sand. I was disheartened to learn that women who held pro-life beliefs were not as welcomed to join as those who are pro-choice. Even Gloria Steinem got in on the action, making…

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Hope, Realism, and the Protestant Face of Anglicanism

Hope, Realism, and the Protestant Face of Anglicanism

Back in 1998, my father wrote an unfashionable yet characteristically compelling little volume entitled The Protestant Face of Anglicanism. With the big anniversary finally here, it seemed like an ideal time to remind people of its existence (and merit)! Coincidentally, the book shares the title of PZ’s latest project, a tumblr devoted to, well, you guessed it. He’s provided us with a personal introduction to the project below, but first, a couple of zinging paragraphs from the final chapter of the book in question:

The Reformers saw the message of justification as a word of comfort, first and primarily, to the troubled conscience. The conscience, unable…

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The Surprising, Unsought Gift of Sylvia

Can’t believe we’ve never posted a quote from Anne Long’s classic (and now sadly out of print) treatise on Listening, much of which was inspired/informed by the work of her longtime mentor and teacher, the hallowed Dr. Frank Lake. The book is a must, not just for those involved in ministry, but for anyone hoping to traverse an increasingly divided world. Here’s an excerpt from Section 2:

41m7cmrifql-_sx314_bo1204203200_Looking back, we may well recall individuals who have meant something to us at particular, sometimes crucial, points on our life journey. For me, it was Sylvia Lake, wife of the well-known Dr. Frank, yet with an experience and contribution very much her own. I first met her when training as a Clinical Theology tutor. There was an honesty, humanity, wisdom and wholeness about her which were, for many of us, a ‘fleshing out’ of integrity. She was ‘fully human, fully alive’, in touch with both joy and pain. And, as I discovered  in the times when she listened to me, there was a quality of loving in her that was resilient, straight and unsentimental. Gordon Allport, the Harvard psychologist, said that love as described in 1 John 4 is ‘incomparably the greatest psychotherapeutic agent — something that professional psychiatry cannot of itself create, focus nor release’.

This was so with Sylvia. Certainly it was more than a collection of human qualities that attracted me, rather a uniting of them into what felt both personal and beyond personality. She was at home in her humanity yet at the same time pointing beyond herself. At various points when I have been depressed I have turned to Sylvia and been helped, not only by her good listening skills but by something deeper–the presence of grace and God in her. I can think of others who, in similar ways, have been given to me at various, often critical, points in my life. They may or may not have been trained in counseling skills, which has helped me to see that, [in the words of Alastair Campbell] “In the last analysis there is no cleverness or accomplishment in pastoral care. It is no more (and no less) than sharing with another in the experience of grace, a surprising, unsought gift.” (pg 44-45)