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Grace in Practice

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)

PZ’s Cure for Existential Beastliness

PZ’s Cure for Existential Beastliness

The other day I was suffering from the normal post-holiday, first-of-the-year, what-has-happened-to-my-life, dear-God-help-me blues. We’ve all been there, right? Right? I was scanning my bookshelf, as you do, desperate for some encouragement, and my eyes lit on PZ’s Panopticon.

I have quite a few of Paul Zahl’s books and have given away Grace in Practice, specifically, more times than I care to count. I even own Comfortable Words, edited by J.D. Koch Jr. and Todd Brewer, the festschrift (isn’t that a great word–literally means “celebration writing”) devoted to his life and work. Suffice it to say, I am a fan. There is…

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PZ’s Podcast: Christiaan, Yes

PZ’s Podcast: Christiaan, Yes

EPISODE 226

I’m feeling optimistic about our future — both mine, and Mary’s, personally; and also the future of our country and the world. This is partly because we are witnessing a kind of up-ending of shibboleths and “narratives” that have neglected universals in engaging with our deep human struggles and woundedness and given the floor to secondary elements, in particular identity-predicates. Secondary traits and qualities of a human being do not solve the inward hauntedness and heartbreak and rejections that make a misery of so many people’s lives. One’s color and background — the accidents of birth and inheritance: these…

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My Best New Years Eve(r)

My Best New Years Eve(r)

In downtown Milwaukee, there’s a Starbucks attached to an ice rink where every winter, you can drive past and see families, singles, couples, and kids of all ages gliding in graceful rotation over an artificial frozen pond. The sight evokes the kind of Americana sentimentality one might feel upon seeing a Norman Rockwell painting or a 1980’s Speilberg film. It just looks like the thing to do – the thing you ‘ought’ (read Law) to do in the winter, in the Midwest, with your wife and kids…especially during the holidays. It seems so inviting to sit with a cup of hot coco or…

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On Being Eleven, I Mean Twenty-Eight

On Being Eleven, I Mean Twenty-Eight

A few months after my daughter was born, I began preparing her and myself for my return to work and her start at daycare. I printed off the twenty-six pages of registration forms for her school, and I sat myself responsibly at our dining room table with my newest Precise v5 black pen (these details matter) to begin filling it all out. In the very first line, marked “Parent Names,” I automatically began writing “Nancy and Rob…” and then paused. This form, this requisite piece of paper was not asking for my parents’ names. Embarrassingly, I realized that actually, I…

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On Christmas Cards and Reconciliation

On Christmas Cards and Reconciliation

I love holiday cards. I love giving them, I love receiving them, I love holiday stamps, and I don’t even care if you write Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or a Festive Festivus, I’m happy to get a card in the mail from you. I hang them up in our dining room, commenting on how children have grown, or so-and-so has moved to another state. I love Christmas letters, even though I don’t write them very often. I know not everyone feels the same. But I love cheap drugstore cards and heavy, fine paper. I am the stationery industry’s dream….

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Falling Into Grace, Part Two – John Newton

Such a privilege to offer up the second half of John Newton’s wonderful presentation in Oklahoma City on his (wonderful) book Falling Into Grace. Click here to watch part one.

Falling Into Grace, Part Two – John Newton from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

The Gospel Monday Through Friday – Alex Large

The second video from OKC is here! And it’s a wonderful one, courtesy of Mbird stalwart Rev. Alex Large. Enjoy:

The Gospel Monday through Friday: Glimpses of Grace in Relationships – Alex Large from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

When God Speaks To You (Personally) Through a Movie

When God Speaks To You (Personally) Through a Movie

Here’s one from someone named Paul Zahl:

I think we’re all agreed that movies and television have the power to help us abreact (i.e., bring to the surface) grief, feel (vicariously) painful emotions, and illustrate in arresting ways the Grace of God. It has almost been a “plank” in the platform of the Mockingbird project, that the visual arts, together with music, are marvelous ways in which profound convictions and universal experiences can be conveyed and observed.

I’d like to take this just a little further — “Just a Little Bit” (Beau Brummels). I’d like to ask you the question: Through what…

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Let’s Have an Uncomfortable Talk About Infertility and (I Guess) Grace

Let’s Have an Uncomfortable Talk About Infertility and (I Guess) Grace

This moving reflection comes to us from Ben Maddison.

Sitting alone in the doctor’s office at a quarter past two on a Wednesday, I held out hope that I was still in control of my life. After a year and a half of trying—of home tests and office tests, and pills and vitamins and online tips, and all those pesky “lifestyle changes”—I waited for the doctor to come in and give me the news I wanted. I sort of knew I was grasping at straws. That didn’t stop me from hoping for the best.

It’s weird to anxiously wait for test results…

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