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"Mockingbird Turns 10" Interviews: Bryan Jarrell

“Mockingbird Turns 10” Interviews: Bryan Jarrell

This is the ninth and final installment in a series of interviews with myself and various writers and members of the Mockingbird community. These posts will explore some aspects of each individual’s personal story and some aspects of Mockingbird’s larger story and ministry as we celebrate its 10th Anniversary. Additional interviews in this series can be found here.

Charlotte Donlon: How did you first find out about Mockingbird?

Bryan Jarrell: I wasn’t there at the beginning, but I think I heard about it within its first year or so. I was an undergrad at the time and had just come out of my…

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The Failure of the Prequels and the Fidelity of Creators

The Failure of the Prequels and the Fidelity of Creators

The release of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi has sent shockwaves of emotional heft throughout known space. Scores of Simeons awaiting the consolation of geekdom have found it in this latest installment, a truly surprising tour-de-force that delivers a similar blend of space opera wonder and classical tragedy the justly revered Empire Strikes Back administered thirty-seven years ago. Whether you left The Force Awakens wanting more or just wanting, rest assured: you will catch every one of the feels from The Last Jedi. The fact remains, however, that Force Awakens isn’t the dumpster fire…

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Day Three of AARSBL (American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature)

Day Three of AARSBL (American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature)

To read the previous round-ups, click here.

To be honest, Day Three of AARSBL was only OK. I went to the Christian Apocrypha discussion on a worthwhile new collection of Christian Apocrypha, with interesting commentary on the nature of genres, on which texts should be included, and on future editions of this new series. I’m definitely going to buy the book at some point.

The rest of the day didn’t feature any sessions of interest, an opinion confirmed by the number of coffee meetings I had with others who were likewise underwhelmed by the offerings. That isn’t to say there is nothing…

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Day Two of the AARSBL

Day Two of the AARSBL

To read the round-up of day one, click here.

Today was my Luther Day. Ever since the schedule was released I had the “Luther and Justification” section circled on my calendar. This enthusiasm derives not so much because it’s Luther but because it was being conducted by Bible scholars. For the longest time, Luther has been an easy target for Pauline students. Having “Lutheran spectacles” or a “Reformational bias” is an insult of the highest degree. For many it seems as though Luther’s reading of Paul was the original sin of Pauline scholarship—the place it all went so terribly wrong….

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Day One of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature (AARSBL)

Day One of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature (AARSBL)

For anyone studying the Bible, theology, or religion, the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature (AARSBL) is the go-to conference to learn about the latest and greatest in current research. Several thousand scholars from all around the world descend upon an unsuspecting city’s conference center and hotels. This year Boston was the site. The AARSBL is the one time that usually introverted academics become social: seeing old friends and renewing professional acquaintances. Paper topics given are as wide as you can imagine, ranging from studies of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas to the controversy over the Luther…

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The God No One Wanted

The God No One Wanted

In her classic rendition of the Biblical narrative, The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd Jones informs us that Leah was “the girl no one wanted.” Of course she was…after all, she was (sort of) the mother of the God no one wanted! We can trace the bloodline from Eve to the promised head-crushing Seed through Leah, Judah, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, Solomon…until we arrive at King Jesus (see Matt 1).

In 1 Samuel, a time when the nation of Israel resided only under priestly and prophetic authority, the people demanded of God, “Give us a king!” To which Samuel replied, “But you have God…you…

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Another (Conference) Week Ends: Paranormativity, Dream Deprivation, Millennial Morticians, Martin Luther, Christian Book Titles for the Age of the 'Net, and More Russell Brand

Another (Conference) Week Ends: Paranormativity, Dream Deprivation, Millennial Morticians, Martin Luther, Christian Book Titles for the Age of the ‘Net, and More Russell Brand

1. I think it was PZ who said that belief in the paranormal is almost a precondition of Christianity. It’s easy to think that science – which is properly concerned with empirically testing and proving/disproving those things which are subject to empirical testing – has vanquished the paranormal. Back in the old days, supernatural forces pressed on human existence from all sides. Beyond the village perimeter, the brooding night contained many things, and they were all threatening. Across Europe, peasants reported sightings of the Wild Hunt, a ghostly cavalcade of riders spreading terror and heralding catastrophe. In a world where…

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Stories of Grace and Ethan Richardson's This American Gospel

Stories of Grace and Ethan Richardson’s This American Gospel

In an article from The Atlantic, Cody C. Delistraty writes about the psychological comforts of storytelling. He writes, “Stories can be a way for humans to feel that we have control over the world. They allow people to see patterns where there is chaos, meaning where there is randomness.” He also says stories can impact and form our emotional lives. Storytelling pulls back the curtain on others’ minds so we can see how people operate and think. This process can validate and challenge our own beliefs. Another reason we tell stories is that we all want to be a part…

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Navigating the Denominational Food Court

Navigating the Denominational Food Court

One of the mixed blessings of Martin Luther’s 500-year-old legacy is finding one’s place among the hundreds of denominations which roughly fly under the Protestant banner. In other words, how does one find the “right” denomination, assuming you profess faith in the lower-case catholic church? This is a particularly acute question for me, born and raised by Southern Baptist parents and educated and ordained in Southern Baptist institutions. As you might have guessed, Southern Baptists are rarely invited to sit at the cool tables in the denominational cafeteria (and often for good reason). A pastor friend once led his well-heeled…

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Am I My Brother's Keeper?

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

When I was a kid attending Sunday School in a very traditional Baptist church in the Midwest, we learned Bible stories… I became familiar with the regular cast of characters like Adam and Eve, Noah, David, Moses, etc. I could tell you that Moses parted the Red Sea; Adam and Eve ate an apple; David slew a giant (thanks to a relative who gifted me one Christmas with 12-inch David and Goliath action figures!). As a teen, I would learn that the book of Leviticus was all about how family members in the same house should not undress in the…

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The Preacher Goes to Fashion Week: Jim Carrey's Gospel Madness

The Preacher Goes to Fashion Week: Jim Carrey’s Gospel Madness

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

God, in his mercy, sends preachers. Some are well-educated and institutionally-approved folk serving the faithful in fine old churches, but in these last days we should take no alarm that the same Lord who spoke through Balaam’s ass might again choose an eccentric instrument. His preachers are not necessarily welcomed even under ordinary circumstances – indeed, the urgency of the need and the warmth of the reception seem often enough to have an inverse relationship. Again, this should not surprise, because the preacher’s first word is a word of law,…

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A Welcomed Interrogation

A Welcomed Interrogation

John le Carré knows spy craft. A master of espionage fiction, he also once served as an intelligence officer in Britain’s MI5. In a recent interview with Terry Gross of NPR’s “Fresh Air,” while promoting “A Legacy of Spies,” le Carré discussed the art of interrogation. He expressed his firm conviction that the “rough stuff” we hear about today (say, waterboarding and torture) is “quite useless,” not to mention immoral. Why? People under such pressure and pain will basically say anything to make the pain stop.

“I’ve found that trying to understand people, trying to befriend them, trying to indicate that…

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