Religion
Another Week Ends: Overrated Successes, Disappointing Babies, Nostalgia for Human Error, Impossible Repayment and Technocrat Baseball

Another Week Ends: Overrated Successes, Disappointing Babies, Nostalgia for Human Error, Impossible Repayment and Technocrat Baseball

1. William Deresiewicz’s clickbaity “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League” draws in high-achievers and their parents to, well, pull the rug out from under them. Apologies for the lengthy quotes, but it’s very good, ht MB:

These enviable youngsters appear to be the winners in the race we have made of childhood. But the reality is very different, as I have witnessed in many of my own students and heard from the hundreds of young people whom I have spoken with on campuses or who have written to me over the last few years. Our system of elite education manufactures…

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Dead Horses, Repentance, and American Religion

Dead Horses, Repentance, and American Religion

Allen Tate, an admired Southern poet (friend of Robert Penn Warren and teacher of Robert Lowell), published an essay in 1930 diagnosing the complexities of Southern and, by extension, American religion. It appears in a work by defenders of the agrarian way of life, titled I’ll Take My Stand, a book with some high points of wisdom which are neglected, now, as a result of its significant/egregious low points of racism and Southern revanchism. Tate finds American religion to be pragmatic in a bad way, focused on an abstract ability to work rather than a view of the whole human. You can…

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On Christian Nakedness (Muy Caliente!)

On Christian Nakedness (Muy Caliente!)

Vanity, definitely my favorite sin.

–The Devil (as played by Al Pacino)

I have a clothing problem.

It’s not that I spend too much money on clothes or that I’m obsessed with having the latest fashions. It’s that I put too much importance on what I wear.

In 2000, Nicolas Cage starred in The Family Man alongside Tea Leoni. It is basically a modern-day version of A Christmas Carol (directed by Brett Ratner of all people!), but the plot is not important to my point. What is important is a scene where Nicolas Cage, who has been magically transported from his life as a…

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Jesus: Not Quite Your All-American Hero

Jesus: Not Quite Your All-American Hero

Babe Ruth taught me one thing: “Remember, kid,” he said, “there’s heroes, and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Follow your heart, kid, and you’ll never go wrong.” All right, sure… maybe that was the not-so-historical Great Bambino from The Sandlot talking, but still, his advice has stuck with me since I was a wee lad. I believe it was my freshman year of high school that I heard Chad Kroeger of Nickelback opine, “They say that a hero can save us, I’m not gonna stand here and wait.” And I’ll never be able to expunge from…

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Gerhard Forde Doesn’t Shore Up the Old Adam, But Kills Him

Here is a drastic parting of the ways with a theology of glory. The Christ of the Cross takes away the possibility of doing something. The theologian of glory might be able to follow to the point of accepting the truth that Christ has fulfilled all things, but then that will have to be used as a motivational tool to make sure the law gets its due. The point is precisely that the power to do good comes only out of this wild claim that everything has already been done. The language has to break out into preaching. Never mind that when we look to ourselves we find no sign of good works. Never mind our fears and our anxieties. We are looking in the wrong place. Look to Christ! He has done it all. Nothing will be gained by trying to shore up the Old Adam. Christ leaves nothing for the Old Adam and Eve to do. The old can only be killed by the law, not given artificial respiration by recourse to it… To the theologian of the cross the language of grace and faith must be pushed absolutely to this length – until it kills the old and raises the new.

-Gerhard O. Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross

The Repetitive Hope of Gavin Bryars’s “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet”

The Repetitive Hope of Gavin Bryars’s “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet”

I heard Gavin Bryar’s “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” for the first time in college late one night while perusing the internet for new music. This was during a particularly dark period in my life after a recent breakup where I spent many a night on the internet distracting myself with music blogs, Facebook, or AddictingGames.com. I happened upon a positive review endorsing the piece and intrigued by the concept and backstory, I downloaded it and pressed play. Normally, I would listen to music on my laptop while continuing to browse the internet but minutes after the song started,…

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Another Week Ends: Blinded with Science, Stumped by Meaning After God, Paralyzed by the Law of Ice and Fire, Outmaneuvered by a Cheeseburger and Oversimplified by Gallup

Another Week Ends: Blinded with Science, Stumped by Meaning After God, Paralyzed by the Law of Ice and Fire, Outmaneuvered by a Cheeseburger and Oversimplified by Gallup

1. Aquinas followed Aristotle in claiming the end (telos, purpose) of biology is medicine. Science has long been a technical discipline designed primarily to promote human flourishing / well-being. Of course, it was always contemplative to a degree, satisfying curiosity or even, as Aquinas also notes, teaching us about God. The study of creation reflects upon the Creator. One wonders what the role of science is today, what a panel of researchers would say if asked. My best guess would be something along the lines of increasing knowledge for knowledge’s sake; if pressed further, one might say that pure knowledge works to bolster happiness and/or…

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A Few Thoughts on Righteous Minds and Religious Liberty

A Few Thoughts on Righteous Minds and Religious Liberty

I believe it was Austin Powers’ father Nigel who once remarked, “There are only two things I can’t stand in this world. People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures… and the Dutch.”

That movie came out while I was in college, and the joke struck a chord. Having been educated in proudly ‘progressive’ institutions, I grew up hearing a lot about tolerance. My secondary school, for example, hosted a semi-annual ‘Diversity Day’, where the student body took part in workshops designed to expose us to different cultures and points of view. Of course, there’s nothing more cynical than a bunch…

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When Less Is More: Reflections on Christian ADHD

When Less Is More: Reflections on Christian ADHD

The number of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnoses among our population continues to increase. There might be good, reliable scientific evidence to back it up, but I must admit I am a bit “old school.” There seems to be a tendency to affix labels and categorize every little thing resulting in the ‘baseline’ of ‘normalcy’ shrinking until nobody falls within its boundaries. But enough of that.

My contemplation of ADHD and where I find it under diagnosed is in our churches. A couple of months ago, I was at a conference aiming to ‘renew’ and ‘re-charge’ Christians. I know this sounds…

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Thomas Cranmer’s Gospel of Divine Allurement – Ashley Null

The fun never ends! Here’s Dr. Null’s presentation from our NYC Conference, which was delivered immediately after Tim Kreider’s. It was quite dramatic:

Thomas Cranmer’s Gospel of Divine Allurement ~ Ashley Null from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Twenty Five Verses Fourteen through Thirty

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Twenty Five Verses Fourteen through Thirty

July 7′s devotion comes, ironically enough, from our returning honeymooner himself, Ethan Richardson. To order The Mockingbird Devotional, look no further than here.

…He who had received the one talent came forward, saying, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.”But his master answered him, “You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?…” (Matthew 25:14-30, ESV)

A common reading…

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Sally Lloyd Jones and Being Afraid of the Dark

Sally Lloyd Jones and Being Afraid of the Dark

Last week as I was tucking our 3 year old son into bed he whispered to me, “Mama, I’m scared of the dark.” I tossed out the first thing in my brain that would make him feel better and make him stay in bed, “Don’t be scared. God is with you.” I really don’t like religious platitudes. For some reason I thought my toddler wouldn’t mind as much.

Immediately my child sat up in bed, looked around and said, “Where?”

After mentally going through the list of answers adults said to me when I was his age (your heart, right beside you,…

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Jesus, Nietzsche & Me – Tim Kreider

You may be surprised to hear we’ve gotten more positive feedback on Tim’s talk than almost any other. We unfortunately weren’t able to include the slides from the powerpoint, so a few jokes may lack punchlines (apologies!). Needless to say, he took us out of our comfort zone in a very engaging way.

Jesus, Nietzsche & Me ~ Tim Kreider from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

To read what we’ve written about Tim Kreider over the years, click here.

New Music: Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence

New Music: Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence

Matthew Linder (who gave Mbird a delightful treatise on Willy Wonka) and I, for well over a week and counting, have been infatuated with the newest Lana Del Rey album, and conversations over Facebook and email ensued. Below are some of the highlights of our discussion of what we both consider a tremendously beautiful and heart-wrenching album.

 

Blake:

So from the first listen, I felt an aural tie to the gothic americana genre, but without the usual folk/bluegrass instrumentation. Gothic americana is notorious for using religious allusion and imagery for often non-religious reasons. It is all tied into this idea of Flannery…

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Myths of Progress and Hopeful Defeatism

Myths of Progress and Hopeful Defeatism

For those interested in human folly and hard truths, look no further than John Gray, a political philosopher whose work On Progress and Other Modern Myths (The Silence of the Animals) debunks many of our species’ self-flattering stories about where we came from and where we’re going. An agnostic himself, Gray realizes the decline of Christianity won’t issue in quite the same unproblematic post-religious paradise that some of his contemporaries might think:

For humanists, denying that humanity can live without myths can only be a type of pessimism. They take for granted that if human beings came to be more like the rational…

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