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Theology/Religion

40 Years in the Wilderness: God's Search for Bruce Cockburn (in 27 Songs) - Part 3

40 Years in the Wilderness: God’s Search for Bruce Cockburn (in 27 Songs) – Part 3

This is the third and final installment in a series on the music and spirituality of Bruce Cockburn. You can read Part One here, and Part Two here.

Act III: Uncertainty and Spiritual Drift (1987-1999)

In my mind, the first two “Acts” in this narrative arc of Cockburn’s career represent two different forms of certainty or assurance—the first, an assurance of religion, and the second of politics. Such assurance comes not merely from a certainty of beliefs, but from a certainty of purpose, a certainty in the core meaning that drives a person, which is as much felt as thought. And that certainty…

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The Golden (Arches) Rule

The Golden (Arches) Rule

This tasteful reflection was written by Andrew Taylor-Troutman.

On the first Sunday of the month, I gathered with the other middle schoolers early in the morning before church and piled into the motley assortment of cars driven by our church’s college leaders. I worshipped those undergraduates and would have gladly tagged along wherever they drove. Plus, you got to wear your t-shirt and jeans. Having arrived downtown in the shadow of tall buildings, all you had to do was help unfold tables and unload boxes of donations. When people came to look over the clothes, you smiled politely. Maybe said God…

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Existential Angst, Just in Time for Mother's Day

Existential Angst, Just in Time for Mother’s Day

I almost didn’t have children.

I can hardly say that sentence aloud now, now that I am a mother, without choking on the words.

I almost chose not to have children.

I did not want the world to have more of me in it.

When I say that aloud now, people laugh, as though I’m joking. I’m not joking. And I wasn’t joking then, or being unnecessarily self-deprecating. I did not want the world to have more of me in it, and I did not want to put another person through the experience of being me. One of me seemed like plenty.

The luxury of…

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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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The World Is Not a Story (According to Paul)

The World Is Not a Story (According to Paul)

The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and the world are not all they’re cracked up to be. However much we want to believe we live a coherent narrative, where the endless succession of events of life have meaning, they inevitably cannot comprehensively grasp the nature of the world. The stories we tell are based upon the mistaken premise that we have a grasp, or understanding, of how it is the world works and what the best outcome should be for the narrative of our lives. Yet there is an almost indescribable gap between the logic used for…

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Announcing Bed & Board: Plain Talk About Marriage by Robert Farrar Capon!

It is a privilege to announce the latest installment in our Robert Farrar Capon series… Bed & Board: Plain Talk About Marriage.

This little book was Robert’s first best-seller, originally published in 1965. Now re-released for the first time, Bed & Board is Father Capon’s enduring, rambunctious counsel on marriage and family life—woven through with the message of grace that never changes, no matter the decade.

From inside:

“This book is not about those giants who tower over you: Psychology, Education, Maturity, Sexual Adjustment—not even Religion. They can take care of themselves. This is about you—that is, about me (for we are all unique, and practically identical). This is, to be honest, not a book at all. It is only a monologue, and not an entirely sober one at that. It is one peasant swapping stories with another in the cold backyard of the House of Important Subjects, while the grand seigneurs hold their solemn consultations within. The author’s qualifications therefore almost cease to matter. Indeed, he has arranged things so that only one is really necessary: He must be an expert in absurdity. And that is the only qualification that will be offered. An absurd Baedeker for an absurd journey; no apologies, no explanations…”

You can order Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage, by Robert Farrar Capon here!

You can also find Mockingbird editions of Robert’s other books here: The Man Who Met God in a Bar, and More Theology & Less Heavy Cream.

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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Mamba Mentality for Losers

Mamba Mentality for Losers

Kobe Bryant won’t go away. I was desperately waiting for him to retire so that I wouldn’t have to watch his brand of basketball or listen to his brand of pop-psychology anymore.

Then he retired. But now he’s back.

Bryant developed a reputation during his playing career for being ultra-competitive (true) and always coming through in big moments (not true). There’s a difference, you see, between being willing to take an important shot at the end of a basketball game (competitive fire) and actually making that shot (coming through). Bryant was always willing to shoot it, regardless of the presence of more-open…

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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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