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What Would You Eat If You Weren’t Afraid?

It’s Thanksgiving again, that one day of the year where we used to loosen our belts to enjoy a glut of buttery foods. But things have gotten more complicated. In the current gastronomic climate we inhabit, even if we do loosen our physical belts, we tighten the moral ones. Whether it’s nutritionally clean or ethically sourced, Thanksgiving now provides us with a chance to be worthy of our own gratitude. Gluten-free stuffing? Vegan creamed corn? Quinoa sweet potatoes? One by one, our peerlessly tasteful G.M.O.s leave our tables, leaving us thankful for, well, other things. What gives?!

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In an article in the Times Magazine, Alex Halberstadt tells the story of his own moral search for the right turkey–a search which landed him with a heritage bird from a small farm in Pennsylvania:

For weeks we watched the turkey — our turkey — on the farmer’s webcam, a cluster of pixels frolicking inside a chicken-wire enclosure. It was butchered and shipped overnight (the FedEx shipping cost nearly as much as the bird) and when it emerged from the oven, mari­nated and basted decadently in butter, the turkey tasted so unspeakably bland that much of it was left on our friends’ plates, camouflaged awkwardly under brussels sprouts. The feel-good narrative of our lovingly raised, hormone-antibiotic-and-G.M.O.-free certified-organic turkey became supplanted with a more ambiguous one. We felt both duped and morally abject: Not only were we out nearly $200, but our ethical gambit put an end to the bird’s bucolic life.

I’m sure you’ve had no such experience. The rest of Halberstadt’s article is a love letter about the joys and complexities of, you guessed it, Frito-Lay’s Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles.

Which made me think, just in time for The Food & Drink Issue (out in January), ENOUGH! Let’s do something about this! Mary Karr once asked us a similar question, but this Thanksgiving, we put it to your gut: What would you eat if you weren’t afraid? Seriously, this is not rhetorical: what would you? What would you allow yourself to indulge were it not for the consequences–bodily and ethical and otherwise? Were it not for your self-consciousness?

We want to know! Leave a comment below or email us here, and tell us what heavenly nosh you so diligently (or not so diligently) avoid. And we’ll publish the answers (anonymously) in our upcoming issue! 

Happy Thanksgiving, whatever grub you’re pining for!

Lazaretto, or Where Is That Moral Progress I Was Promised? – Scott Johnson

Here comes the next video from Oklahoma, and the first of the breakout sessions. This one arrives courtesy of Dr. Scott Johnson, our resident expert in classical Greek and all things White Stripes-related:

Lazaretto, or Where is that Moral Progress I was Promised? – Scott Johnson from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

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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To Step Off the Turntable

To Step Off the Turntable

One chilly fall day when I was in the fourth grade, I decided to run laps around the driveway. I had obsessed about it all the way home from the rear-facing bench-seat of Mrs. Miller’s Volvo station wagon. It was penance. I had eaten a really unhealthy lunch involving bacon cheeseburgers and deviled eggs. Even in the fourth grade, I knew I couldn’t eat like that without paying the piper one way or another.

It was a crisp, deep-yellow late afternoon. The brown-orange leaves crunch-crunch-crunched under the frantic and determined steps of my dirty white Keds. I hadn’t changed out of…

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God as a Magnifying Mirror of Me: On American Folk Religion

God as a Magnifying Mirror of Me: On American Folk Religion

At the end of August, I shared a quote from sociologist Zygmunt Bauman in which he described social media networks and various communities in our day as reflections of the individual. That is, we contemporary Americans tend to seek out communities and people that help express our inner selves more visibly to the wider world. Like my new iPhone 7, J.Crew shirt, and selvedge denim jeans reveal something about their owner, so in much the same way are my networks and circle of friends an extension of my inner ego. And if Bauman is correct in that observation, then might it be that God is…

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From the Archives: A Referendum on Midlife Friendships

From the Archives: A Referendum on Midlife Friendships

“We haven’t seen them in a while,” I hear myself observing every few weeks, usually in reference to friends with whom my wife and I have lost touch.

Most of the time, the estrangement is logistical, schedules being what they are in a house with two working parents and two napping toddlers. But guilt nevertheless sets in and triggers defensiveness. Soon platitudes like “it takes two to tango” or “life happens” are being trotted out and before long, you’re castigating yourself or the other person(s), possibly deconstructing society as a whole, and any chance of reconnection has been essentially nullified.

Growing up,…

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Playing it Safe with Consumer Reports

Playing it Safe with Consumer Reports

It’s taken a while to write this love letter. Consumer Reports has for 80 years now provided its readers with solace from the fear of getting it wrong. Its slogan, “Smarter Choices for a Better World,” says it all. Who doesn’t want to make smarter choices? And when it comes to consumer products, who doesn’t want to get a deal—or at least not screwed? When an entire display wall at the Walmart gives you 148 different plaque and tartar removal toothpastes, when your kitchen remodel is stuck between electric smoothtop and pro-style dual-fuel ranges, when you wonder whose frequent flyer…

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The Duty vs. the Desire to Punish

The Duty vs. the Desire to Punish

A brief review of the Persistent Widow parable from Luke 18, which many folks heard at church this past Sunday. It’s a short little parable of a widow with a just grievance. The local judge, however, is corrupt, and he refuses to hear the case. So the widow relentlessly pesters the judge until he finally agrees to hear her out to “see that she gets justice.”

The point of the parable is made clear at its telling: “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” To quote our friend Derek Webb, there is…

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The Overachiever’s Ultimate Trophy

The Overachiever’s Ultimate Trophy

It may not come as a surprise to learn that Lesson 39 in Randy Paterson’s wonderful How to Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use is “Pursue Happiness Relentlessly”. According to Paterson, there’s no more reliable way to ensure your future discontent than by enshrining happiness as the purpose of life.

Actually, there’s one more reliable way to do so, and that’s to make happiness not simply a goal but an expectation. Which is what we do when we (mis)interpret Mr. Jefferson’s classic line about “the pursuit of happiness” as a guarantee rather than a right.

That’s a brief intro to one…

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Steinbeck and the Flight from the Law

Steinbeck and the Flight from the Law

This one comes to us from our friend Clayton Hornback.

If there is one thing I cannot claim, it’s the claim of being well-versed in the world of novels and novellas. As much as I hate to admit it, I am a product of our fast-paced, busy, attention-deficit culture. Thus, for my fiction fixes, short-stories have become a saving grace. Recently I’ve been reading a work of short stories by John Steinbeck titled The Long Valley (ironic title for a collection of shorts). Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors, if not the favorite, so I knock out the two birds…

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Flipping Rest into Work, Grace into Law

Flipping Rest into Work, Grace into Law

This post comes to us from Samuel Son.

Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. – Mark 3:1-2 (New Living Translation)

No story gets me more steamed than this one of the Pharisees salivating because Jesus is about to heal a man on the Sabbath; it gives them the ammunition to finally “nail” Jesus with a Sabbath infraction, a serious charge. Jesus knows they are springing…

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Tough Love Lessons in a Year of Jail Ministry

Tough Love Lessons in a Year of Jail Ministry

Before even beginning this post, you probably noticed the one giant, smug asterisk that naturally attached itself to the title: *Oh goodness, that’s right. Can’t believe I forgot to tell you! I do jail ministry. NBD. I’d love to, you know, grab a beer and tell you more about it sometime…

Let me alleviate any forespoken superiority with a quick rejoinder: God did not equip me with enough confidence to throw “successful tips” out about much, and definitely not about doing jail Bible studies. I do not have tips. I am a “sensitive” guy, which does not exactly disqualify me from…

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