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Grace in Practice

Pep Talks and the Gospel (In a Van Down by the River)

Pep Talks and the Gospel (In a Van Down by the River)

When I was growing up with my three siblings, my dad drove us all to school every morning, and picked us up every afternoon. There was a school bus, but he liked spending that time with us, and we liked it, too, and so we piled into his car on chilly Wisconsin mornings, and he dropped us off at our respective schools on his way to work.

Every morning, he gave us a rousing pep talk. I suspect it was as much for him as it was for us. On Mondays, the pep talk went something like this: “It’s…

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This Week: Come See Stars in My Crown With PZ in Stamford, CT!

You Are Invited: This Wednesday Aug 24th at 7:30pm to the final installment of our summer film series, “Religious Hope From the Movies”, at the Avon Theater in downtown Stamford, Connecticut. To whet your appetite our host, Paul Zahl, produced the following blurb:

stars-in-my-crown-movie-poster-1950-1020537482I’ve never met someone who didn’t fall for this movie. We’re talking about a Hollywood Western entitled Stars in My Crown, which was released in 1950 and starred Joel McCrea. Stars in my Crown was directed by Jacques Tourneur, who made many movies you’ve heard of, such as Cat People (1942) and Out of the Past (1947).

Interestingly, Stars in my Crown was Joel McCrea’s favorite movie in which he acted, and Jacques Tourneur’s favorite movie that he directed.

You’ve got to come see this movie with us next Wednesday at the Avon Theater in Stamford.

Why?

Well, it presents a Christian minister who is the essence of grace in practice. Somewhat episodic, Stars in my Crown tells the story of a sincere, delightful, and persistent minister who is faced with problem after problem after problem in the small town where he has planted a church — from the strong resistance of the local doctor, who is a rationalist, to a power play from the town’s “big man” (and also the Klan) against an African-American senior, to an inward assault upon the minister’s own faith and confidence when a typhoid epidemic brings his ministry to a standstill.

Stars in my Crown is one of the few mainstream movies — together with the French movie Leon Morin, Priest (1961), and a small handful of others — that depicts a minister or priest with accuracy, empathy, and sympathy — in short, with Christian understanding.

At 7:30pm PZ will introduce the movie — which we featured, by the way in Mockingbird at the Movies (2015) — and right after the movie’s over, we have a special guest. Our special guest is Peter McCrea, son of Joel McCrea, who will talk about his father’s spirituality, and why it is that Stars in My Crown was his dad’s favorite.

Hope you can come.

Softening the Sting: Some Words From Falling Into Grace

Softening the Sting: Some Words From Falling Into Grace

In a particularly memorable chapter from his book, Falling Into Grace, John Newton (who’ll be speaking at our Fall Conference in Oklahoma City 10/28-29) opens with the story of “The Scorpion and the Frog.” You may already be familiar with the story, but I wasn’t, so I’ll run through it quickly:

The scorpion is looking for a way to cross the river, but, for obvious anatomical reasons, he’s having a hard time finding anyone willing to give him a ride. He asks the frog, who says, “No way, you’ll sting me!” The scorpion eventually cajoles the frog into giving him a lift across the…

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How Many Friends Have I Really Got?

How Many Friends Have I Really Got?

The most awkward part of the wedding wasn’t the foot-washing, believe it or not. Uncomfortably sensual, sure, but there was also something touching about it.

More awkward was the fact that she was there in the first place. You see, she would’ve been surprised to receive an invitation, let alone a request to be a bridesmaid. But there she was, lined up at the altar with six ladies she’d never met before, all of them wearing the same dress, standing behind an amiable young woman with whom she had at best a passing acquaintance.

A more honest person (or less of a…

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Grace in Practice 10 Years Later: A Conversation

Don’t think we’ve posted the wonderful on-stage conversation that took place in NYC between PZ and Scott Jones:

Grace in Practice 10 Years Later: A Conversation Between Scott Jones and Paul Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Another Tribute to the Rev. Robert Capon

Another Tribute to the Rev. Robert Capon

Here is another fantastic reflection from Cody Gainous. 

I can’t remember where I first read the name Robert Farrar Capon — whether it was Mockingbird that led me to Capon or Capon that led me Mockingbird, I’m not sure. Classic chicken/egg scenario. But I can remember where I was when I heard that he had passed away. We are approaching the third anniversary of his death this September. That day, I was sitting on the couch in my tiny apartment, incidentally reading Between Noon and Three. When I put down the book and picked up my computer, the news came: Robert…

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From the Archives: Law and Grace in the Competition of Marriage

From the Archives: Law and Grace in the Competition of Marriage

As with most of the provocative second half of Paul Zahl’s Grace in Practice, the following excerpt goes well beyond abstractions and gets uncomfortably close to the bone–in the best possible way. The language here has to do with marriage, but you could easily substitute a variety of other relational contexts:

Men and women encounter a serpent-ridden wilderness of Eden when they enter into marriage. Competition for need-fulfillment and attention squanders huge amounts of energy in resentment and suppressed antagonism. The nature of the law is to place every single marriage under the Damocles’ sword of needs to be met. The word…

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Optimizing the Sabbath (One Pillow at a Time)

Optimizing the Sabbath (One Pillow at a Time)

The following originally appeared as a guest post to Amy Julia Becker’s blog over at Christianity Today. Some readers may notice a few, er, congruencies with past Mbird posts:

A couple of years ago, The New York Times ran a remarkably astute editorial about the state of American sleep. Apparently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently declared insomnia to be a full-blown public health epidemic. The “Sleep Industry”—a $32 billion/year endeavor—has responded. They’ve introduced a spate of new soporific technology, from pills and teas and chocolates to bracelets and mattresses. (The number one selling paid app on iTunes this…

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PZ’s Podcast: Hey, Everybody

PZ’s Podcast: Hey, Everybody

EPISODE 219

Gosh, I like Tommy Roe!

But why?

Well, partly, because his songs are catchy and sweet, and especially “Everybody” (1963). But “Dizzy” (1969) also makes me… dizzy.

The real reason a person likes a song — or really likes a song — is that it speaks for them. Or speaks to them. Or speaks from them. The song “resonates”, to use the idiom, with you. In other words, it’s not just the song. It’s the part of you that connects to the song.

All these things we like so much (i.e., pop songs, videos, movies, novels, television shows, poems, paintings) draw something out…

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Blessed Are Those Who Mourn: The Relief of Grief – Lauren Larkin

Very excited to present the next breakout session video from NYC, from long-time contributor and friend Lauren R.E. Larkin. Just wish the digital version came with candy too:

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn: The Relief of Grief – Lauren Larkin from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Chickens Running at Midnight

Chickens Running at Midnight

Here in the Atl, we are on par with Cleveland (at best) in terms of major sport championship futility.  We’ve got nothing other than our World Series Championship in 1995 – against Cleveland (ironically).  In fact our biggest sports moment is not actually in that World Series, it’s 3 years earlier when “Sid slid” against the Pirates to send the Braves to the 1992 World Series (that we would lose to Toronto). While Atlanta fans were experiencing pure euphoria after “Sid slid”, there was a different story brewing on the Pittsburgh side.  It’s chronicled in the video below, on July…

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When the Solution Isn’t a Solution

When the Solution Isn’t a Solution

It’s only July, I know, but the 2016 Podcast Episode of the Year can already be announced. I wish I could give the nod to The Mockingcast or PZP (“Ecumenical Apocalypse” tied with “Cook’d Book” for runner-up, and Gladwell’s “The Lady Vanishes” took bronze), but alas, top honors go to Invisibilia’s “The Problem with the Solution”, which first aired this past Friday, ht CWZ & LM.

The cast takes a lengthy look at a place we’ve written about a couple of times before, the town of Geel in Belgium, where instead of being cooped up in a facility mental patients live…

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