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From the Archives: What I Didn't Do On My Summer Vacation

From the Archives: What I Didn’t Do On My Summer Vacation

Lately there’s been a considerable dearth of David Zahl on this site, wouldn’t you say?! So here ya go. The following article goes out to anyone strapping a cargo shell to the roof of his or her car this weekend. From our archives, this one remains as prescient and timely as when DZ wrote it back in 2013:

It’s official: leisure has gone the way of the leisure suit. At least according to an excellent “long read” by Jenny Diski in The New Statesman, “Learning How to Live”, which explores the question of why we find free time so terrifying. If…

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Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and the Motherhood Cure

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and the Motherhood Cure

I’ve recently started reading the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books to my 6-year-old. I picked them up because I remembered reading them when I was in elementary school, and because we could all use a little bit of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle in our lives. If you’re not familiar with the books, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle was created in the 1940s by Betty MacDonald. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle lives in an upside-down house, she might have pirate treasure buried in her back yard, and she loves children. She soon acquires a reputation in the neighborhood for being able to “cure” common childhood “ailments”: not flu…

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A Long Strange Trip through Death to Life

A Long Strange Trip through Death to Life

This was written by Deadhead, Luke Roland. 

The highly anticipated documentary on The Grateful Dead, Long Strange Trip, is now on Amazon Prime.  I have previously written about the effect that the music of The Grateful Dead has had on me for Mockingbird, and in light of the documentary I thought it would be a great time to revisit them in a Mockingbirdian context.  

The Grateful Dead have had a positive influence on American culture, and continue to do so. They could be the most important American band in our history. I realize that is a tall statement, but think about…

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Seeking Freedom from Dieting and Body Shame: Part One

Seeking Freedom from Dieting and Body Shame: Part One

During the first call with my new health coach, she told me to stop weighing myself. I agreed to cease this action and hid our scale next to my hair dryer and a pack of cotton balls in a bathroom cabinet. That lasted three days. The scale is now back on the black-and-white ceramic tile floor beside my bathtub, and I step on it every morning after I wake up. Some days I weigh myself multiple times. Don’t tell my health coach.

I have operated with a diet mentality for thirty years. As a serious classical ballet dancer during my teens,…

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Wendell Berry's World-Ending Fire of Original Sin

Wendell Berry’s World-Ending Fire of Original Sin

A few days ago, I happened across the round-table discussion with Wendell Berry, Paul Kingsnorth (author of the forthcoming Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist), and economist Kate Raworth on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week hosted by Andrew Marr. The conversation, from this past May, centered around problems associated with the environmental movement, particularly issues of idealism without responsibility.

Wendell Berry, an avid environmentalist himself, is not opposed to stirring the pot. He just released a book of essays optimistically titled The World-Ending Fire and is the subject of a documentary produced by Nick Offerman — yep, that Nick Offerman — called Look and…

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We Are All Henry VIII, or, Why the Reformation Is More Than Rome

We Are All Henry VIII, or, Why the Reformation Is More Than Rome

The following comes to us from Cal Parks and is based upon material found in John Schofield’s Philip Melanchthon and the English Reformation (75-77).

This year is the 500th anniversary of the so-called beginning of the Reformation, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. While a rather common and innocuous act (this was a way of inviting scholarly debate), it hit at a truly critical moment in European affairs, both spiritual and temporal. This event has become immortalized as a myth, and as a historian by trade, I tend to scoff at such reductions and over-simplifications…

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It's Gospel Law the Way Down

It’s Gospel Law the Way Down

I woke up yesterday morning feeling like I had time traveled 10 years back into the wonderful world of mockingbird.blogspot.com. Back then, a group of us were invited by David Zahl to start up a blog dedicated to the exposition of justification by faith alone as understood through the hermeneutical lens of the distinction between law and Gospel. This was not our first attempt at blogging, but it was different in that, as I wrote in a 2008 post, “Can’t See the Forest for the Blogs,”

Most theological blogs that I’ve found, like many political ones, are so rife with acrimony…

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You Are God's Favorite

You Are God’s Favorite

The Bible says that “every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of Lights” (James 1:17). This is a beautiful sentiment. The truth on the ground, though, if you just open your eyes and look around the world, is slightly different. It’s more like “every good and perfect gift comes with a warning.” Every toy my kids get for Christmas has large warnings on the packaging about how this toy—or the plastic bag it comes in—might kill them. Every movie I see warns me about the questionable content it contains. The roller coasters I ride are “not…

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The Law, the Gospel, and Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints)

The Law, the Gospel, and Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints)

I probably heard the gospel many times during my childhood, but it didn’t register until I was a junior in college. When it finally grabbed my attention one fall night outside Gorin’s ice cream shop in the Five Points South neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama, I saw my need to be rescued from my sin. I was with a friend who was a Christian when all of the puzzle pieces fit together. She prayed for me and with me after I acknowledged the fact that my efforts to perform and get my act together would never meet God’s expectations of holiness….

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The Church Built on the Rock of Hypocrisy

The Church Built on the Rock of Hypocrisy

The New York Times posted a video last month of an interview they conducted with Ray Dalio, the founder of the largest hedge fund in the world (Bridgewater Associates), and the captain of one of the more terrifying work cultures ever. Bridgewater, which manages $150 billion worldwide, preaches a work culture euphemized as “radical transparency,” a culture so monomaniacally focused on fact-checking and honesty that it goes beyond the work itself. Dalio was featured in a 2011 New Yorker profile, which introduces him in a standard weekly investment meeting with his subordinates. During that meeting he publicly upbraided a junior employee for speaking…

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April Fools! College Admission and Parental Validation

April Fools! College Admission and Parental Validation

As faithless as it is calculating, college admission becomes a decade of denial for most.

The first of April becomes the focus of lifetimes. Many parents and their issue have connived, planned, even negotiated for this date: college admission — April First. This April Fool’s Day, millions of households will have their 17-year-old collegiate lay locked and loaded, kinder-glued to their laptops. No, it’s not porn, binge-watching, or even OD-ing on FB. It’s all about admission to college. That’s Decision Day.

It used to be so simple: you got a fat envelope and were IN, thin envelope OUT, middle envelope MAYBE. We…

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Sin + Grace + Sin + Grace = Holiness?

Sin + Grace + Sin + Grace = Holiness?

Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts, recently published this article about her conviction to give up wine cold turkey. When I read it, I immediately experienced two conflicting emotions:

Glad it’s her who gave up the hooch and not me.
It is possible I should give this article a second read.

Bessey reveals in So I Quit Drinking that she had been a lover and consumer of wine throughout adulthood, and it “never bothered [her] in the least,” until it did.

…when it comes to conviction, I have found the Spirit to be gentle but relentless.

Change and transformation is an ongoing…

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