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Grace in Practice

Bruddah Iz, the Rainbow, and the Rainbow Warriors: Looking Back at Facing Future

Bruddah Iz, the Rainbow, and the Rainbow Warriors: Looking Back at Facing Future

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (“Iz”) unwittingly provided future listeners a clue to something deeper at the beginning of his signature song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.” Soon after he arrived at the studio–at 4 a.m., possibly high–he sat on a steel chair and said “This one’s for Gabby” before strumming and gifting future generations with his sweet, somewhat haunting “Oooo” intonations.

Gabby here refers to Gabby Pahinui, a childhood friend of Iz and one of the fathers (both as a solo artist and as a founding member of the Sons of Hawai’i) of the Hawaiian Renaissance. The latter movement was most…

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The Essence of Christianity (Plus)

A couple of brand-new bonus recordings to which to draw your attention on this Tuesday afternoon:

  • Scott Jones and Bill Borrer interviewing Paul Zahl about “The Essence of Christianity” for their stellar New Persuasive Words podcast (which you can subscribe to here). You might think of it as a preview of the in-person conversation they’re going to have in April:

Sometimes these things don’t turn out as well as you’d hope. But sometimes they do, which seems to have been the case here. Or so we’ve been told, thank God.

PZ’s Podcast: Saved!

PZ’s Podcast: Saved!

EPISODE 210

When you were in a tight spot, how did help get through to you, assuming help did get through to you?

Did God speak from out of the whirlwind — of crisis, panic, and despair? Or did aid come from inside yourself — a ‘how-to’ or random thought that proved serviceable in the midst?

If you’re a regular listener to PZ’s Podcast, you may well answer, the former. That’s certainly what happened to PZ!

Nevertheless, your source of inspiration, and help, and salvation in the imminent immanent sense of the word: what was it?

You won’t be surprised that I’ve been thinking, in…

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2016 NYC Conference: Breakouts and Theme

Will Eisner - New York - Expo CBBD

At long last, some details about our upcoming 9th Annual New York conference (4/14-16). Thank you for your patience! We’re excited to announce that the theme this year will be “Relief! The Boldness of Grace in a World of Expectation”, and we can confirm that the slate of breakout sessions will include:

  1. I’m New Here! What’s Going On? – Melina Smith and Bryan Jarrell
  2. Performancism 101: Achievement Culture and the Golden Calf of College – CJ Green
  3. Good Enough? Where Positive Psychology and the Gospel Meet – Sasha Heinz and Jacob Smith
  4. Grace Stinks: When the Healer Carries a Sword – Stephanie Phillips
  5. An Episco-Disco Primer: Exploring the Oddball World of Leftfield Christian Music (1975-1985) – John Zahl
  6. Good News at World’s End: Grace in Eschatology – Will McDavid
  7. Blessed Are Those Who Mourn: The Relief of Grief – Lauren Larkin
  8. Cheap Grace? A Fresh Look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Javier Garcia
  9. A Just Relief: How the Gospel Inspires Justice and Mercy – Raleigh Sadler
  10. The Most Foolish Job in the World: Planting a Grace-Centered Church – Jonathan Adams and Curt Benham
  11. Impossible is Nothing… and Everything – Nick Lannon
  12. Grace-based Healing Prayer – Laurel Marr and Ben DeHart
  13. The Future’s Past: Time Travel and Justification in Fiction, the Bible and You – Adam Morton

1cf32dc0b32ac7254af47125729237cbOther Special Events include: A Mockingbird at the Movies panel, the first-ever Friday night Episco-Disco (courtesy of DJ JAZ), and a live taping of The Mockingcast in which Scott Jones sits down with Paul Zahl to talk about the 10th anniversary of Grace in Practice, among other things.

We’re still waiting to hear from a couple of potential speakers (sorry!), but we can tell you that the line-up for the “main stage” already includes theologian Ted Peters, sociologist Eric Klinenberg, musician Derek Webb, comedienne-priest Sarah Condon, wannabe gentleman farmer Ethan Richardson, and blizzard enthusiast David Zahl. Our chaplains this year will be The Rev. Dave Johnson and The Rev. Nancy Hanna. Watch this space, and conference.mbird.com, for more details as they emerge.

Earlybird discounts expire this coming Monday, Feb 1st, at which point all other price options will be available. Again, thanks for your patience. We are really, really excited about this event. I mean, who doesn’t need a little relief?!

The Best Natural Disaster There Is? In Praise of Blizzards

The Best Natural Disaster There Is? In Praise of Blizzards

The psychology around snow days is fascinating. Blizzards especially, like the one we experienced in Virginia over the weekend. For all they cover up, a massive snowstorm also exposes some less-than-fluffy sides of our species and culture.

If you’re like me, the snow days of childhood are cloaked in soft-focused wonder and excitement. A break from routine, a time to sled and build forts and drink hot chocolate. Like one of Riley’s Minnesota memories in Inside Out.

The snow days of adulthood are different. There is still beauty to be seen and fun to be had, walks to be taken, new recipes to…

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PZ’s Podcast: How To Be Popular If You’re a Guy

PZ’s Podcast: How To Be Popular If You’re a Guy

Episode 209 (up now!)

The answer to that question has to lie, somehow, in whatever explains the popular success of Rodney Marvin (‘Rod’) McKuen.

Rod McKuen died a year ago, and did you know he sold 100 million records? No kidding. Rod McKuen sold 100 million records.

(He also sold 60 million books. But hey…)

Here is a man who was universally dismissed, from day one of his earthly success, as being a “kitschy” Philistine and arch-sentimentalist. No critic had a word of praise for him. Ever, ever, ever. And that’s been true right up to the present day.

And let the People say: He…

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Can Anything Good Come from Buffalo?

Can Anything Good Come from Buffalo?

This reflection on one of the newest in the 30 for 30 catalog, comes from Mockingfriend Paul Harris.

It is needless to say that ESPN’s 30 for 30 series has repeatedly brought to screen some glorious glimpses into the human heart.  The Four Falls of Buffalo, now streaming on Netflix, is no exception. Place this movie on the top of your must see list!

You may remember the Buffalo Bills losing streak of four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-1993. Sadly, The Bills, especially the 1990-96 rosters were and often remain synonymous with failure. Players like quarterback Jim Kelly, star running back Thurman…

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The Results We Never Asked For: The Tragedy of Lawrence Phillips

The Results We Never Asked For: The Tragedy of Lawrence Phillips

Former Nebraska Cornhusker football star Lawrence Phillips’ apparent suicide in prison has been lodged in my mind as few celebrity (speaking broadly) deaths ever have. To be clear, I’ve never been a fan of Phillips, and I hadn’t thought about him enough to follow his post-Nebraska life. The story touches so much of who I am, though, that I can’t quite make sense of it.

A bit of background: Phillips was the star running back on the 1994 National Champion Huskers team, and he was a leading favorite for the Heisman Trophy at the beginning of the 1995 season. That ended…

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Kylo Ren and the Weakness of Love

Kylo Ren and the Weakness of Love

For those of you who’ve spent the holidays under a rock and have yet to participate in the global phenomenon that is The Force Awakens (or if you just don’t care), I promise that this little ditty contains no spoilers like the one some Sith Lord left on a stickie attached to my Han Solo mug.

Coming out of Star Wars, my youngest son asked me an interesting question: “Kylo Ren just really wanted to be bad, huh?” I thought it over for a moment and answered “no, he just really wanted to be powerful.” And this led me to an…

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Fear of a Free Planet

Fear of a Free Planet

Ben Franklin was close but wrong on life’s certainties. Enoch walked with God and did not see death, for God took him; Elijah was carried to heaven in a fiery chariot; Apple hardly pays a dime. Death is a statistical lock and taxes hard to evade, but there are better bets still. To wit: the Vikings will blow a home playoff game on a missed FG (the Lord has so ordained it), the identities of Rey’s parents and Supreme Leader Snoke will disappoint fans’ Sherlockian strivings, and any public expression of Christian freedom worth the name will inspire a chorus of anemically orthodox…

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PZ’s Podcast: Five O’Clock World

PZ’s Podcast: Five O’Clock World

EPISODE 208

Now we think that reality, the “real world”, is what happens “between nine and five”, that is, what happens at work, in the office, at school, in career, and so forth. And a lot of people want to tell us this is true.

But not The Vogues. They were from Pittsburgh and they understood about shifts and hourly pay. Yet they understand more than that!

For the fact is, ‘as you lay dying’ (Faulkner), you won’t give your “nine-to-five” life a single second thought. Not one single second thought! You’ll forget it all, in the absolute blink of an eye. That’s just…

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The Life of a Coach: “When We Lose, I Lose; When We Win, You Guys Win”

The Life of a Coach: “When We Lose, I Lose; When We Win, You Guys Win”

The day after the last day of the NFL regular season is known as “Black Monday”. It’s the day when typically no less than five NFL head coaches get their walking papers. Every NFL team ownership group makes promises to their fans that they can’t deliver on. Typically, the words are “we’re going to put the best possible product on the field.” And, “we are going to be competitive and make our city proud”. Inevitably, after the pledge to the community has failed, the axe comes down on the coach.

One of the “Black Monday” casualties this week was Tom Coughlin,…

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