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Grace in Practice


I’m New Here! What’s Going On? – Jacob Smith & Sarah Condon

A crowd favorite from our Spring Conference, featuring quite the dynamic duo:

I’m New Here! What’s Going On? – Jacob Smith & Sarah Condon from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Nerd Alert! The Curious Rehabilitation of Geeks

Nerd Alert! The Curious Rehabilitation of Geeks

Of all the reversals we’ve seen take place in our culture of late, one of the most unexpected has to be what’s happened with “nerds”. If you had told me in 1988 that the group of oddballs who sold me and my friends our comic books every Saturday would come to dominate the mainstream, part of me would’ve wanted to believe you, but wouldn’t have.

Back then, “nerd” was a label to be avoided not embraced. It wasn’t a synonym for shy or misunderstood or even studious as it is today (though those traits often fell under its umbrella). Nor was…

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A Tale of Two Podcasts

A Tale of Two Podcasts

I recently went back to work (does one day a week count as going back? I say YES!) and, with a thirty-minute-minimum commute each way, wondered how to make the most of my hour spent in the car. I wanted to use the time effectively–productively, even–because, as a parent of young kids, I look at blocks of alone time much like Gollum looks at the ring.

After completing and singing the praises of Serial, I searched for another podcast that could fill my commute and leave me more informed than when I ambivalently climbed into the car that morning, tears both blurring and…

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PZ’s Podcast: PZ’s Fabulous New Dating Tips for Gals

EPISODE 190

This is a word to your future self. I’m not sure you can hear it now. But in five or ten years… OMG. You’ll hear it then, inside your head pounding like a perpetual hammer, and… you’ll remember.

It’s a comment on internet dating, and a massive warning. You may want to say back, Don’t take away the only hope I have for a non-alone life. Don’t pour cold water on the one thing I’ve got.

But it’s not cold water. It’s actually balm in Gilead. But to your future self! In five or ten years, and maybe in five or six months, “You’ll come running back” (Time Is On My Side, The Rolling Stones). You’ll hear this again and say, Dang!

Incidentally, at the end of the cast I offer a future. There is still a way. Love is out there, but… yet… nevertheless… however… better to be alone than be crucified on the altar of a man’s body and mind collapsing aeons before yours does.

This is your Ghost of Christmas Future speaking.

I Fell Into a Burning Ring of Grace: Thoughts on The Useful Sinner

I Fell Into a Burning Ring of Grace: Thoughts on The Useful Sinner

Culturally we spend a lot of time talking about a kind of “pay it forward” do gooderism. You know, you pay for a random stranger’s Mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks and then they pay for somebody’s Lemonade Coolerista (just kidding, they haven’t started making those yet). Perfect strangers in perfect harmony, as the thinking goes. Or maybe you are familiar with the pebble theory. We drop a pebble of kindness into water and the ripple effect is such that even more encouraging acts come from this one moment of positivity.

I love this way of seeing humanity. But it lives in denial…

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Thou Shalt Never Feel Bad: Inside Out for the Ivy League

Thou Shalt Never Feel Bad: Inside Out for the Ivy League

Sadness is having a cultural moment, and that makes me happy. Much of this is thanks to Pixar’s Inside Out, that rare film which deserves all the success and acclaim being heaped upon it.

There are any number of reasons to laud the movie, as DP pointed out a couple weeks ago. Its artistic merits are beyond question, but so are those of, say, The Box Trolls (seriously!). What makes Inside Out so remarkable is its message. Pete Docter, et al, are saying something that strikes the almost impossible balance of timely, courageous, and, well, true. Which is that sadness, grief,…

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Forgiveness Is Greece’s (and Germany’s) Only Hope

Forgiveness Is Greece’s (and Germany’s) Only Hope

Central to Christianity is the notion that, at the end of the day, forgiveness is humanity’s only hope. Not performance, or improvement, or willpower, or wishful thinking, but absolution – “nothing but the blood of Jesus,” as the old hymn goes. Apparently, this idea holds in financial markets as well, or so a piece in yesterday’s New York Times claims.

“Germans Forget Postwar History Lesson on Debt Relief in Greece Crisis” is the title, and here are some of the money quotes:

As negotiations between Greece and its creditors stumbled toward breakdown, culminating in a sound rejection on Sunday by Greek voters…

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CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, Anjelica Huston, Martin Landau, 1989, couple at the beach in winter

Infidelity, Love, and the New Shame

Just dove into Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg’s Modern Romance, and have to say, it’s pretty great. Funny yet with a surprising amount of meat on its bones. As mentioned the other day, the book’s primary interest lies in exploring 1. the unspoken cultural imperative to find a ‘soul mate’ and 2. the resulting anxiety, frustration, and confusion that characterizes modern romance. I was particularly struck by how the word ‘soul mate’ has come to serve as a synonym for savior. A weight it clearly cannot bear:

Searching for a soul mate takes a long time and requires enormous emotional investment. The problem is that this search for the perfect…

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Penny & Sparrow on Fleeing a Lover

Penny & Sparrow on Fleeing a Lover

There is, in fact, no BuzzFeed quiz for “Which Son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son Are You?”—and if there were, I’m not sure people would take it.

As the story goes, a decently well-off man has two not-that-decent sons. The younger, wild and fugitive, asks his father for an advance on his inheritance. (I have never been a first-century householder or the offspring of one, but have heard this would effectively send the message “You’re dead to me” from son to father.) The father (again, nothing like me, because I would have laughed at this kid or sent him to…

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England's Jo Potter (L) consoles teammate Laura Bassett after she scored an own-goal in the last minutes of the game giving Japan the win in their semifinal match at the FIFA Women's World Cup at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Canada on July 1, 2015.   AFP PHOTO/GEOFF ROBINS        (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

The Upside-Down Notion of an “Absolute Hero”

This week’s sports post comes from Mockingbird contributor Jonathan Adams:

Like (I’m sure) many of us, these past few weeks I’ve been dutifully doing something that I literally never do – watching women’s soccer on TV. I’ve been watching the US matches in the World Cup. I don’t claim to know much about soccer, but I concluded after watching the US in their semi-final match against Germany that (to my very untrained eye) the US team is a “team”. They communicate well and seem to have each others’ backs. They’re super fun to watch. And yes, I may have a pink…

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2015 Kanuga Renewal Conference: Rest

IMG_7543

An enormous thanks to all those who make last week’s Renewal Conference at Kanuga happen. It was such a joy and privilege to be asked to provide the content, and spend a week with such a wonderful group of people (in such a beautiful place). Best of all, the time itself proved genuinely restful for all involved. The recordings of the main sessions are now up on The Mockingpulpit as well as the Recordings page, but for those who would rather stream or download directly from here, you’re in luck.

1. Rest for the Restless – David Zahl

2. Christian Obstacles to Rest – Jacob Smith

3. Rest in the Bible, part 1 – Jady Koch

4. Rest in the Bible, part 2 – Jady Koch

5. How Rest Is Applied – Jacob Smith

6. The Life of Rest – David Zahl

7. Closing Question and Answer Session – DZ, JS & JDK

The Scandal of One Way Love: A Few Thoughts About My Friend Tullian

The Scandal of One Way Love: A Few Thoughts About My Friend Tullian

What a week to have been away. I was on the road to Kanuga when I got the news of Tullian Tchividjian’s resignation from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and the shuttering of doors at Liberate.

As long-time readers know, Tullian has been one of Mockingbird’s most ardent fans for many years, as well as a dear personal friend. He’s spoken at a couple of our conferences, and we’ve worked together closely on a number of projects. So the news about this sudden reversal is saddening on several levels, predominantly because I/we know so many of the people involved, and none of…

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