Religion

The 7 Things I Don’t Want to Hear in Church in 2015

The 7 Things I Don’t Want to Hear in Church in 2015

I present this with all of the love and Christian charity I can muster, but if I ever hear the following churchy phrases again, it will be too soon. And if you use them around me in the year of 2015, I will give you the “Ouiser Boudreaux.”

1. She’s earning jewels for her crown in heaven.

Wait, there are crowns and a system of jewels? Is this like a Kay Jeweler Add a Charm, bracelet thing? Can I request an all emerald edition? But seriously, I’ve never heard this phrase used in regards to anything except our own egos. And it…

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Waiting for a Baby: Pregnant at Christmas

Waiting for a Baby: Pregnant at Christmas

This is the second time in my life I have been pregnant during Christmas. With the first, I was only a few short weeks into the process and so mostly just doe-eyed, exhausted, and power-eating Chick-fil-a. This go-round though, I’m at 18 weeks and still running for the toilet every time I eat anything with sugar, change a diaper, or drink liquid with too much vigor.

Nausea aside, being pregnant during “The Season” sheds so much light on “The Reason.” The season leading up to Christmas, what we call Advent, is a season of waiting and anticipation. Easter is probably supposed…

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Gifts Beyond Reciprocity

Gifts Beyond Reciprocity

I may not be the only one for whom an element of Law has infiltrated the yearly ritual of gift-giving. On the giver side, I spent an undue amount of time and energy trying to find things adequately utilitarian yet also personal, valuable but not profligate, suited to the taste of various people. And on the recipient side, I feel like I’m growing progressively more choosey: partly as a function of growing older, with ever-more specific tastes, and partly as a function of the Internet (numerous sub-forums are involved in my selection of even a minor thing for myself). The…

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When I Was an Adult I Read Books, to Remain a Child

When I Was an Adult I Read Books, to Remain a Child

The following piece was recently shared with Mockingbird. The “librarian,” whose name is not Paul Zahl (seriously!), has given us permission to post it here.

Note from the librarian: This reading diary, penned by LeVar Burton, was recently discovered in the archives of a theological library. The manuscript, handwritten on napkins and folded away inside an old volume of George Herbert’s poetry, suggests that Burton found gold at the end of the (Reading) Rainbow.

[Books are] a children’s game which God has given me in order that the time till his appearing should not be long for me.”

~ Johann Georg Hamann

 

William Hale…

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Reflections on America’s Happiest City

Reflections on America’s Happiest City

Four and a half months ago, Charlottesville, VA was named the happiest city in America. As the happiest blogger in the happiest city, I feel like I should do some commenting.

In the original paper for the happiness study, the researchers are careful to note that they’re measuring only “self-reported” happiness, a qualifier lost in some of the news outlets which reported it. To oversimplify things, we could view one’s self-reported level of happiness as consisting of three factors: (1) happiness itself, (2) pressures to lie on the survey, and (3) self-deception about perceived happiness. Since the survey was anonymous and Sandford,…

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Star Wars Reticence

Star Wars Reticence

On this site, it is hard to miss the emphasis on God’s grace and our passivity. Grace as God’s overriding disposition toward the human condition in Christ and passivity as suffering the work of an interested and loving God on His people. All of the grace, celebration, joy, redemption, and catharsis we receive rest on The Great Ending of One Finished Act of God we suffer… an act we observe and hear about instead of work to bring to pass. This Great Ending is the basis of all of our mining on Mockingbird.

So, count me as one who is deeply…

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An Imaginative Festival of Lessons and Carols

An Imaginative Festival of Lessons and Carols

A yearly Christmas pleasure is King’s College at Cambridge’s famous Festival of Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve, nine lessons and nine carols with a beautiful choir and traditional music. For those who just can’t wait, here’s a bit of the rationale of the King’s College service, followed by an Mbird-friendly, fresh and down-to-earth spinoff to tide you over:

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was first held on Christmas Eve 1918. It was planned by Eric Milner-White, who, at the age of thirty-four, had just been appointed Dean of King’s after experience as an army chaplain which had convinced him that…

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Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Resurrection of the 78 rpm Record

Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Resurrection of the 78 rpm Record

This reflection on the 78s of great price comes to us from Nick Rynerson:

If you’ve ever spent a Sunday afternoon moseying through the rural late-modern labyrinth that is an antique mall you’ve probably seen a 78. Hidden behind the over-priced spice racks, odd smelling jackets, and empty (“collectible”) coke bottles is usually a box or two––almost always on the ground––of 78 rpm records. Unplayable on most modern turntables, heavy as hell, and comically breakable, 78s sit untouched.

By the 1960’s 45 rpm (“singles”) and 33⅓ rpm (LP’s) had all but eradicated the bulky shellac 78. In a few short years, the…

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Fury at the Cross(roads): The Gospel in the Violence of History

Fury at the Cross(roads): The Gospel in the Violence of History

Another great contribution from Michael W. Nicholson, this reflection on the film Fury’s religious dimension first appeared on his blog, Tides of God.

The most religious film many moviegoers will see this year will not be an inspirational story from a faith-based production company; it will be writer-director David Ayer’s WWII tank combat epic Fury. And in some ways Fury is also a more compelling narrative about redemption than many of the sermons preached from Church pulpits on any given Sunday.

Fury is a slice-of-combat-life story that follows a few days’ action of a Sherman tank crew during the final campaign against Germany in…

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Brand-New Book and an Advent Sermon by John Zahl

Brand-New Book and an Advent Sermon by John Zahl

We’re happy to announce another Mbird-friendly book out now: friend and Mbird contributor John Zahl‘s new sermon collection from Grace Church, Charleston, titled Sermons of Grace! We can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s available for purchase on Amazon here. The sermon below is the book’s opener and a great beginning to Advent, first given on Dec 1, 2013.

Prepare the way of the Lord… (Matthew 3:3)

John the Baptist’s words this morning are unequivocal: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” It is undeniable that “preparation” is one of the main themes of Advent.

The readings in Advent contain an eschatological emphasis, which means that they deal with…

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Leszek Kolakowski on Inevitable Defeat and the Order of the Sacred

Interesting piece by Jack Miles in the new issue of The Atlantic Monthly about “Why God Will Not Die”, worth reading in its entirety, though what struck me most was the quote he included from Polish thinker Leszek Kolakowski, from his essay “The Revenge of the Sacred in Secular Culture” (1973), ht AZ:

Religion is man’s way of accepting life as an inevitable defeat. That it is not an inevitable defeat is a claim that cannot be defended in good faith. One can, of course, disperse one’s life over the contingencies of every day, but even then it is only a ceaseless and desperate desire to live, and finally a regret that one has not lived. One can accept life, and accept it, at the same time, as a defeat only if one accepts that there is sense beyond that which is inherent in human history—if, in other words, one accepts the order of the sacred.

“I Wanna Get Better”—Self-Propulsion, Self-Reproach, and the Big Picture

“I Wanna Get Better”—Self-Propulsion, Self-Reproach, and the Big Picture

This reflection comes from our friend Mimi Montgomery:

And I miss the days of a life still permanent / Mourn the years before I got carried away / So now I’m staring at the interstate screaming at myself, / ’Hey, I wanna get better!’

I didn’t know I was broken ‘till I wanted to change / I wanna get better, better, better, better, / I wanna get better

-Bleachers, “I Wanna Get Better”

I have a compulsive need to continuously have some sort of background noise going on while I drive my car—NPR, the radio, my iPod, calling my mom so I can listen while…

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