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Anne Lamott and What Dies (and Grows) in the Creative Struggle

Anne Lamott and What Dies (and Grows) in the Creative Struggle

If you write, you’ve probably read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. She is the shy, neurotic, wise, funny, dread-locked, recovering alcoholic, who is a font of sanity and encouragement for many of us engaged in the compulsion of writing. Anne grew up in a family of atheists, but came to faith and got sober — in that order, as that sobriety wasn’t instantaneous. Her descriptions of the struggles and joys of parenting, the messiness of life, and the wonders of being part of a church family are alternately hilarious and weepingly beautiful.

There aren’t many interviews with her, but when…

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The Mockingcast Rides Again!

Exciting news: we’ve just dropped the first new episode of The Mockingcast in eight months, complete with fresh artwork and music (ht JAZ), as well as the debut of new co-host RJ Heijmen! Among other subjects, David, Sarah, and RJ talk Disneyland, church aunts, harassment, male libido, Advent, and the difference between justice and revenge.

Click here or on the image above to listen and/or subscribe. And remember, our feed changed over the hiatus, so if you think you’re already subscribed, you may not be. (Oh and the iTunes reviews and ratings didn’t survive the hiatus either, so if you feel so inclined… it’d be a huge help). You can go here to access the links we discuss on the program.

Thank you x 1million for your patience. We’ll have another episode in two weeks!

p.s. Those suffering interview-withdrawal are enthusiastically encouraged to check out Scott Jones’s wonderful Give and Take podcast.

The Future of Protestant Theology with Dr. Simeon Zahl

Very pleased to share following lecture on the future of Protestant theology. Delivered this past Monday, November 27th, by Dr. Simeon Zahl (University of Nottingham), it was the inaugural event of the Aberdeen Centre for Protestant Theology at King’s College, University of Aberdeen. Enjoy!

Day Four of #AARSBL17 (and the Spiritual Roots of Theological Insight)

To read the previous round-ups of this year’s American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature (AARSBL), click here. Also excited to announce that we have the recording of Simeon Zahl’s lecture from the event, “Prayer and Affliction: Martin Luther on the Spiritual Roots of Theological Insight” available to stream/download here.

The final day of AARSBL feels like going to church on a snowy day. The publishers are still there and papers are still being given in the morning, but the excited “buzz” is gone as probably 50-75% of attendees have already left. Universities don’t usually…

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Kids, Camels, Needles & the Righteousness of the Law

Kids, Camels, Needles & the Righteousness of the Law

This one comes to us from Brad J. Gray.

Something my dad has said many times before, and something that I don’t think I’ll forget anytime soon, is that the keys to good biblical interpretation happen to also be the same 3 basic rules in real estate: (1) Location, (2) Location, and (3) Location. Or to put this in hermeneutical terms, we might say, Context, Context, and Context!

Context is king when it comes to reading, studying, and applying the Bible. (My dad should know a thing or two about this, as he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the same subject.) This is…

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The Possibility of (Actual) Dialogue Between Atheists and Christians

Hooray! The much-esteemed Francis Spufford has a new book out this month, a collection of essays entitled True Stories & Other Essays. Highly recommended for anyone interested in language and literature, to say nothing of thoughtful Christianity (or, curiously enough, the Arctic!). The earliest piece in the “Sacred” section takes the form of an open letter to atheists–not surprisingly perhaps, given that it was published in 2012, at the height of the New Atheist hubbub. The whole thing overflows with characteristic wit and eloquence, and despite the title, aims to move beyond categories of antagonism. Its stirring final paragraphs are…

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Book Smart and Gospel Stupid

Book Smart and Gospel Stupid

This one comes to us from Chad Bird.

If you can tell me all about the Almighty’s mind-blowing power to fashion ladybugs, the Milky Way, and titanium from absolutely zilch, but don’t get around to talking about our re-creation in Christ…

If you can marshal vast arrays of evidence to fight tooth-and-nail with those who deny the days of creation were seven twenty-four hour periods, but never take the time to talk about the hours our Lord hung upon the cross…

If you can untangle the genealogies of Kings and Chronicles; synthesize the competing accounts of the regnal years of Israelite royalties; and…

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Waiting At the Altar (No Longer!): Bob Dylan’s Gospel Years

As promised, a review of the long-awaited Trouble No More boxed set documenting Bob Dylan’s gospel years, courtesy of resident Dylanologist Ken Wilson, who’ll be seeing his 55th (!) show on Friday.

In a career full of surprises, the most amazing is still the “born again” period. Sure Bob Dylan had shocked his folkie fans, and enraged Peter Seeger (or so the legend goes), by going electric, i.e. commercial, at Newport. Sure, he’d retreated from public view and been rumored dead in the wake of a serious motorcycle accident, rhymed “moon and spoon” and crooned with Johnny Cash, and toured…

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Lord God, From Even Our Motives, Save Us

This past Sunday was the kind of Sabbath that heals me. It was All Saints Sunday, my husband preached about my grandmother, and the church was full of loud children. During communion, a guy played “Amazing Grace” on the horn. It was a taste of heaven.

And then I turned on the radio in my car and heard about the horrific church shooting, just a few hours away from us, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. And then I turned the radio off.

My heart felt too full of heartache. The vision of babies being shot to death in a Baptist church was more…

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Do You Need a Receipt to Return a Christmas Miracle?

Do You Need a Receipt to Return a Christmas Miracle?

I’m quickly coming up to the two year anniversary of when I nearly, nearly, shouted a four letter word in a crowded auditorium. And it wasn’t fire. I was at a Christmas concert, and the organizers had thoughtfully placed magnets with handwritten Bible verses underneath all of our seats. At a certain point in the evening, they asked us to reach under and collect them. I did. That’s the moment I wanted to shout…um…not-fire.

The verse was for me, for that very moment. The Lord answers prayers. This particular evening, I really didn’t want him to. Like, at all. It meant…

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Patton Oswalt's Good Grief

Patton Oswalt’s Good Grief

This one was written by Aarik Danielsen.

“You gotta laugh to keep from crying.”

This is what passes for conventional emotional wisdom in 2017. And not without reason. Our moment feels, politically, psychically, and spiritually, like a stage play complete with buffoonish characters, bizarre stage directions and metaphors willing to do tasteful nudity. If we didn’t turn to the audience and wink at the absurdity of it all, we would never open the curtain.

And yet this logic is no logic at all. Love is patient and kind; it is not rude or self-seeking. Grief makes no such promises. It will not be…

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Just My (Christian) Imagination Running Away With Me

This article was originally posted by the John Jay Institute, as part of an online symposium it held on Christian Imagination a couple years back. It’s been lightly edited.

It’s embarrassingly difficult to find oneself largely without answers but with questions, especially in the context of beautiful reflections on art, liturgy, the imago dei, and other affectively-charged elements of the Christian imagination. For example, the question of the imagination’s being ‘fully redeemed’ is one that a stubbornly literal-minded person cannot quite wrap his head around. Awash in thoughts of family farms sold, inheritances forfeited, and next-of-kin pawning them back, such etymologically-constrained…

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