1. Well, we knew about Mary Flannery’s early life of training chickens to walk backward (1932); it appears that God marked O’Connor out as different from pretty early on. We remember the short stories of violent grace and brilliant essays, and we even got to read some excerpts from her year-and-a-half-long prayer journal (written while still studying for her MFA at Iowa) in September. Well, three days ago the full work was released, edited by her friend William Sessions, and The New Yorker posted a great review/primer for anyone interested in fiction, O’Connor, prayer, the South, grad school, wooden legs, etc:
1. Over at Liberate Nick Lannon reflects on the gratuity of Halloween relative to Christmas, stating from the outset that “Halloween has become more Christian than Christmas”. He’s not wrong:
“Consider the theological implications of Halloween. Halloween is the ultimate equal opportunity holiday. EVERYONE gets candy. On the surface, it’s the picture of the Gospel! There is no checking of qualifications at the door. You come, you receive. Christmas, on the other hand… well, you know the song: ‘He’s making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. Santa…
Again, Happy Reformation Day! From his Commentary on Galatians:
Paul seemeth here to compare those that seek righteousness by the law, unto oxen that are tied to the yoke. For like as oxen draw the yoke that draw the yoke with great toil, receive nothing thereby but forage and pasture, and thereafter are appointed for slaughter: even so they that seek righteousness by the law, are captives, and oppressed with the yoke of bondage, this is, with the law, and when they have spent their strength a great while, this is their reward, that they are perpetual and miserable servants, even…
Happy Reformation Day. If you’ve been following MBird for a while now, then you’ll not be surprised that we get pretty fired up about Reformation Day, but we might celebrate it a bit differently than you might think. For one, our major concern here is not about any particular church vs. another, or even a set of particular doctrines over and against others. Now, to be sure, we have our commitments in these areas, but fundamentally we are concerned about celebrating Reformation Day because of our need–shared across each of our contributors–to hear the pure and unadulterated Good News–the…
“To think that human beings are freedom-loving, you have to be ready to view nearly all of history as a mistake.”
So says pessimistic philosopher John Gray, in his wonderful recent book The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths. If it’s already beginning to sound a bit glum, well, he can’t really help himself. The first word we need to hear is so often a “no”, a judgment, or a deconstruction.
Have you ever known someone who had a truth sitting right in front of them and couldn’t recognize it? Someone who always exonerates her child – bad grades…
Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) has been immensely influential, with the “Weber thesis” being one of the most well-known Interesting Ideas around. The idea, basically, is that Protestantism, especially in Calvinist and Wesleyan and Baptist and ‘Pietistic’ forms, has been a major contributor to the ‘Spirit’ behind capitalism.
But there’s so much more. In looking at religious ideas not strictly in terms of their truth or doxological value, but also in terms of emphases and influence, Weber helped map out a distinctly modern way of doing and evaluating theology.
René Descartes has been called the first modern philosopher, a turning-point in how we think of ourselves and our world. His famous principle was “I think, therefore I am.” He wanted to find a sure foundation for all available human knowledge. Anxious to please the Jesuit academy he admired, he even proved God – all based on the reality of thinking, the idea that one cannot even doubt without proving, thereby, the reality of the person doubting. The mind is always true and, as a foundation and criterion for truth, is transcendent.
We’ve inherited his legacy, of course. As a child, I…
The following piece comes from, let’s face it, the only person it could come from, a certain beloved speaker at our Fall Conference near Houston, The Very Rev. Dr. PFMZ himself.
I first “cottoned on” to the novels of Mika Waltari after I read a passage in Kerouac that lambasted a scene in “The Egyptian”, accusing Waltari of exploitative violence. (Kerouac had been offended by an attempted strangling, depicted in the Hollywood version of “The Egyptian” (1954), which puts you in the action underwater.)
It was one of the few cases I ever found in Kerouac where the god’s criticism was…
Another quick one from new Mockingbirder Win Jordan.
Muzafer Sherif’s famous “Robbers’ Cave Experiment” says that we embrace division—not just that we are happy with divisions, but that we actively seek them out. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that we develop our identities and our community by way of our divisions. (If you want proof of this, just introduce yourself as “Democrat” or “Republican” at your next mixer and see how you’re received.)
It certainly has not and is not different for the Christian. We look to theologians, churches, or denominations to define the “Faith” marker of identity….
1. First off, a little pop theology. Phillip Cary contributed an encouraging review of J.D. Greear’s sensationally titled Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart to the recent issue of Christianity Today, under the header “Anxious About Assurance”. As he does in his book Good News for Anxious Christians, Cary gets straight to the heart of the matter:
Greear is not saying it’s wrong to ask Jesus into your heart. He’s saying it’s not the same thing as believing the gospel. And if we want to be assured of salvation, it’s believing the gospel that actually counts. We are saved by faith…
I have been in mourning over the revelation of cyclist Lance Armstrong’s guilt for several months now since the preponderance of evidence seemed to point toward his having indeed doped (using banned performance enhancing substances) during his seven-year Tour de France reign. Of course, the man himself finally confirmed his guilt last week during a highly publicized two-part interview/confession with Oprah Winfrey. Now I find myself at a new place with the story since I am finally viewing Armstrong (and the many other cyclists allegedly guilty of doping) through a theological lens. In fact, I found Armstrong’s confession to be…
A couple of beautiful excerpts from the Great Reformer’s Sermon on the Visitation, in which he sounds very much like the progenitor of Alcoholics Anonymous that he is. Taken from Martin Luther’s Christmas Book that Roland Bainton put together (indispensable reading this time of year), these paragraphs are part of Dr. Luther’s exposition of The Magnificat, AKA Mary’s song in response to news delivered by the angel Gabriel:
“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.” (Luke 1: 46-48a)
1. An encouraging number of signs of life in the bibliosphere this week. First, over at The New Statesman, much to my surprise (and much to his credit), renowned atheist Alain de Botton selected Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense as his favorite book of the year. For a profound little excerpt from the book, go here. Can’t wait for it to come out in the States. Second, there’s the arresting depth of understanding and engagement in From Exile, Grow Man’s review of PZ’s Grace in Practice. Probably the most honest review I’ve…
WHAT: Mockingbird seeks to connect the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life in fresh and down-to-earth ways.
WHY: Are we called Mockingbird? The name was inspired by the mockingbird’s peculiar gift for mimicking the cries of other birds. In a similar way, we seek to repeat the message we have heard - God’s word of grace and forgiveness.
HOW: Via every medium available! At present this includes (but is not limited to) a daily weblog, semi-annual conferences, and an ongoing publications initiative.
WHO: At present, we employ three full-time staff, David Zahl and Ethan Richardson and William McDavid. They are helped and supported by a large number of contributing volunteers and writers. Our board of directors is chaired by Mr. Thomas Becker.
WHERE: Our offices are located at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, VA.
WHEN: Mockingbird was incorporated in June 2007 and is currently in its seventh year of operation.
The work of Mockingbird is made possible by the gifts of private donors and churches. Our 2014 operating budget is roughly $195,000, and with virtually no overhead, your gifts translate directly into mission and ministry. Can you help? Please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or would like more information.
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