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Grace in Practice

PZ's Podcast: Shoe Horn

PZ’s Podcast: Shoe Horn

EPISODE 247

People are constantly trying to shoe horn their search for God into containers too tight for the Object of the search. This is probably true of some of your interests, whether it’s food or Hammer horror films or “Philadelphia Soul” — to name two of my current but chronic faves — or you name it. On something or someone, you are probably pinning very high hopes.

The blogosphere is full of such shoe horns — interests such as a movement or style or movie or type of music that attracts your “ultimate concern” (Tillich). But they don’t actually produce for…

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Subscribe to Talkingbird, the New Home for Mbird Talks, Past and Present

Subscribe to Talkingbird, the New Home for Mbird Talks, Past and Present

Thank you to everyone who helped put on this year’s conference in NYC, especially our invaluable friends at Calvary St. George’s and The Pixie and the Scout! What a wonderful time it was.

Click on the image to subscribe

For the recordings this time around, we’ve decided to launch a brand-new podcast, TALKINGBIRD, which will be your destination for talks given at Mockingbird events–past, present and future.

After each conference, we’ll upload everything we have to that feed. In between events, we’ll pull a fresh talk from our archives each week and post it there as well. From here on out, The…

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The Distraction of Grace

The Distraction of Grace

This reflection comes to us from Blair Kilgallen.

Our two granddaughters had been staying with us for several days while our kids took a respite in Iceland before they got too weighed down with the arrival of their third child.

Morning plans were set. My wife Rachel was working at the clinic. Arrangements were made for me to drive our granddaughters over the mountain-pass to drop them off with their other Gramma in Denver. Afterwards, a group from our local church-plant was to meet with the leadership of our oversight church.

Then things took an unexpected turn, as they often do in the mountains.

A…

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Ordinary Manna

Ordinary Manna

We humans like big stories. We are often unwilling to engage in and be moved by the ordinary and the small. We flock to movies about super heroes; we break all the records when someone puts all the super heroes into one movie together. If God really wanted to impress Abraham, He could have told him he’d have as many children as tickets sold to Avengers: Infinity War. And this desire for bigness pervades all areas of life, even (especially?) our interactions with grace offered to us by God and man.

And part of that is Jesus’ fault, really. We are…

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PZ's Podcast: Welcome to the Club

PZ’s Podcast: Welcome to the Club

EPISODE 246

One of the best things about the recent Mockingbird conference in NYC was its unerring focus on universals and primary factors in human destiny and identity, rather than on contingencies and elements in life that do not endure, but pass away.

Hence one’s love for Blue Magic.

Blue Magic were a Philadelphia group in the early and mid-1970s who stuck to absolute basics. Which is to say, Blue Magic stuck to romantic connection and romantic loss as the big drivers. Almost every song they performed is about acutest mourning (for a person) or ecstatic presence (of a beloved and loving person)….

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Mountaintop Experiences Are For The Birds

Mountaintop Experiences Are For The Birds

In my work with youth and young adults, I hear a lot about mountaintop experiences. These experiences are moments when the daily grind of life comes to a halt, the busy world is hushed, and you can experience God and community to the fullest.

I often hear about mountaintop experiences at summer camps or youth retreats. The final talk will generally feature this line from the fauxhawked youth pastor, “As you go back into the world, how will you take what you have experienced here with you?” The implication is that the time away is unique and different, both figuratively…

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Touching Kevin’s Heart with Dirty Hands

Touching Kevin’s Heart with Dirty Hands

This one comes to us from Blake Nail. 

Our culture is obviously in the middle of some division: some think it’s necessary, and others think it’s harmful. It seems people, especially on the internet, are on the hunt to shame, ridicule, or in some cases, completely ruin people’s lives and careers. Albeit sometimes over reasonable issues, not to negate real offense and wrongdoing. Often, though, people are being shamed for having different views, thoughts, and sometimes even associations. It can even be for unintentional offense, for which the mob has no mercy. When the Law comes down on you, it doesn’t…

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Mockingbird NYC: All Such Good Works

Mockingbird NYC: All Such Good Works

I first saw the couple waiting in line at the airport ticketing desk. I was probably standing 25 feet away. They were elderly and Indian. The wife wore a bindi on her head, the traditional marker of marriage in Hinduism and a protection from the evil eye. Neither of them looked like they’d showered in days. He faithfully pushed her through the lines in a wheelchair. I noticed that when he stepped away to get their tickets, her hand went up in the air. It seemed to be searching for him.

I very unpastorally thought to myself, “Gosh. That looks like…

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Sin is Behovely

Sin is Behovely

Lent is over — hallelujah — but its scent lingers. The first weeks of Easter can be confusing. On the one hand, there’s jubilation, joy, a feeling of liberation, celebration. It’s all warranted. But after Lent, and especially after Good Friday, Easter feels a little out of place (which is fitting). After dwelling for several months on sin and contrition, we enter Easter with heavy hearts and distracted minds, and while we say with our mouths that Jesus is risen and that everything is accomplished, it’s just as easy to believe that Easter hasn’t done its work.

This past Sunday, Fr….

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Announcing Unmapped by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips!

We couldn’t be more excited to announce Mockingbird’s latest book project, a sprawling and poignant “spiritual memoir duet” by two longtime Mockingbird writers, Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips. This book features a patchwork of personal essays, pocket liturgies, and pseudo-fictional plays, and not a dull moment between them.

Stephanie Phillips and Charlotte Getz never expected to raise their families anywhere but home, in the American South. But then…life happened.

Quirky, hilarious, and (mostly) true, UNMAPPED is the tale of two long-distance friends who found home—together and apart—in unexpected exile. This spiritual memoir duet is unlike anything you’ve ever read.

Pre-order here: Unmapped: The (Mostly) True Story of How Two Women Lost at Sea Found Their Way Home! 

Free domestic shipping on pre-orders made before May 7! Available in hardback and paperback.

PZ's Podcast: How U Break a Soul-Tie

PZ’s Podcast: How U Break a Soul-Tie

EPISODE 245

Well, the short answer, tho’ not the whole answer, is: you can’t. I wish you could. I can give you a hundred pointers and tips concerning it; and can even print out some prayers for you to say, in hopes of their breaking the soul-tie.

But they would all be “tweaks”. They would all be wistful hopes that will let you down. This is because in “the natural” — i.e., within the systems and interactions of this world — the soul-tie is a tethering of something eternal, your endless soul, to a contingency. The chain of your soul to the…

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The World's Greatest Dad

The World’s Greatest Dad

My wife is pregnant with our first child, which means that soon I will become the World’s Greatest Dad. I know this because I have done all the self-work necessary to understand how my parents failed me in my childhood. Using this self-knowledge, I will not make any of the mistakes my mother and father made. With mistakes eliminated, all that will be left is a good, healthy childhood. I just really want my children to have to “unlearn” as little as possible, you know?

Now to buy a baby book. Which one will show me the correct way to…

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