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Loving the Dreadful Day of Judgment: Fleming Rutledge's <i>Advent</i>

Loving the Dreadful Day of Judgment: Fleming Rutledge’s Advent

The Rev. Fleming Rutledge’s “generous orthodoxy” defies pinning down. She loves both the Day of Judgment and the oppressed in society (and thinks the former will relieve the latter); she believes in Purgatory (without indulgences) and in the nine ranks of angels; and she boldly declares Christ to be Lord and King and coming again […]

New Religions, Fresh Heretics, and the Beyoncé-KISS Continuum

New Religions, Fresh Heretics, and the Beyoncé-KISS Continuum

The big 4-0 passed us by with hardly a whimper. It was just a couple weeks ago, but no one made a fuss, not even the band, who seldom pass up a chance at a cash grab. Perhaps it’s not all that surprising; on the list of Pop Culture Disasters, this one ranks pretty low–somewhere […]

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Lost Doctrine of Sin

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Lost Doctrine of Sin

An immense honor to put this up for online reading. This essay from Dr. Simeon Zahl was originally given at the NYC Conference in 2016 and was republished in written form in our most recent issue of the magazine, The Déjà Vu Issue. To order one for your favorite sinner, go here. And if you […]

An Air of Condescension: Why Working-Class Whites Don't Go to Church

An Air of Condescension: Why Working-Class Whites Don’t Go to Church

Grateful for this reflection by David Clay. In the 2016 film Manchester by the Sea, sixteen-year-old Patrick Chandler loses his father to congestive heart failure and finds himself in the custody of his uncle Lee, a laconic and depressed Boston janitor. Neither Patrick nor Lee are very excited about the situation; much of the movie revolves […]

How to Deploy Survival Mode: Some Notes on Mental Health from the Ladies of Unmapped — Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips

This excerpt comes from Mockingbird’s latest publication, Unmapped: The (Mostly) True Story of How Two Women Lost at Sea Found Their Way Home, by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips. One of the many zingers from this spiritual memoir duet, the following passage finds the authors wrestling with anxiety and mental health issues…as related to the gospel:

The gospel gets a bad rap sometimes because it says you have to die before you can live. Which is a hard pill to swallow when you didn’t even want to take a pill in the first place.

Here’s how it goes: girl has anxiety. Girl gets tools to deal with it. Tools help. (Occasionally.) But girl ends up in a situation (usually involving failure, humiliation, menstruation, her children, all of these things, or NONE OF THEM) in which she ends up feeling totally defeated by her anxiety; we mean, crushed. All hope appears lost. She thinks she will never get better. She can’t bear to think about the looks she will get when everyone sees she’s STILL a mess. She thinks she will actually die. None of the techniques help. She is drowning, and she cannot breathe. She is sinking, sinking, sinking…and everything goes dark.

Awful, right? Like, Shakespearean tragedy-awful. Except there’s this other thing—death—and it relies not at all on the sinking girl, but on her being miraculously and improbably revived by something [Someone] entirely separate from herself. No strategy, no implementation, just plain being lifted up out of the depth of despair and placed atop some blessed rock. Death, but then…resurrection. See what we’re getting at here?

We know it’s not as simple as a granted wish. We know there’s a whole lot of fist shaking, swearing into the sky, and despair. But it took Jesus himself three days, people. Settle in: this may take a while. Chances are, we’re probably going to be staring that bastard (mental dysfunction) in the face off-and-on our whole lives until we arrive at that beautiful buffet in the sky, where there’s endless white bread and the bill is already paid. But God is right with us. The ultimate hope—for us, for our kids when we fail them, for our friends when we hurt them, for our marriages when we flounder, for our jobs when we blow it—is in the throes of death that transform into the pangs of new life.

Drown, resuscitate, repeat. Fail, get forgiven, go again. Despair, hope, defeat, redemption, over and over, until one day you wake up and you realize you’re still anxious, but you see it more clearly, for the cloudy lens it is, and you know—even though you’re not there yet, because TODAY IS A DOOZY—you know that you’re going to be okay. Ultimately, you will be whole. And you’re headed there. So you breathe, and you put one foot in front of the other while recognizing that you’re actually being carried. And your anxiety hasn’t disappeared; nope, it’s still following you around like a hot, wet rag someone keeps chucking at your face, but you’re no longer a table for two. You’ve got company, and it looks strangely like a lifeboat with all the provisions onboard (see what we did there?). You settle in, and soon other passengers come aboard your lifeboat, so you open a bottle of wine and hold hands and breathe together, everyone facing the same direction.

My Church Is Not CrossFit

My Church Is Not CrossFit

I cannot do CrossFit. I’m not being sarcastic. I really wish I could, but a medical condition prevents me from taking part in the Workout of the Day (WoD). I have many friends that swear by CrossFit. They find it meets a multitude of needs, both physical and social. When I was newly ordained and working on a […]

Of Millstones

Of Millstones

One of the most stark and terrifying verses in all of the world’s religions is attributed to Jesus not once, nor twice, but three times identically in three different gospels: “Whoever will cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if he were thrown into […]

Love and Wrath: A Personal Odyssey – Dorsey McConnell

From our recent conference in NYC, the following testimony was given by the Rt. Rev. Dorsey McConnell. Here he discusses family, rage, and the time he almost killed his father…really! Incredibly moving. We’re very pleased to share this one.

Love and Wrath: A Personal Odyssey – Dorsey McConnell from Mockingbird on Vimeo

Wait for It: The Surprising Perks of Suspense

Wait for It: The Surprising Perks of Suspense

Waiting, of any kind, is generally just stupid. We can all agree on this. We are on the same page here: I don’t like waiting, you don’t like waiting, nobody likes to wait. We want what we want, and we want it yesterday. Veruca Salt got this (“give it to me noooow”), and so did […]

A Quick Word on Christian Freedom and Ill-Taught Piano Students

A gem from Robert Capon’s Between Noon and Three, pg 149:

If we are ever to enter fully into the glorious liberty of the children of God, we are going to have to spend more time thinking about freedom than we do. The church, by and large, has had a poor record of encouraging freedom. It has spent so much time inculcating in us the fear of making mistakes that it has made us like ill-taught piano students: we play our pieces, but we never really hear them because our main concern is not to make music but to avoid some flub that will get us in trouble. The church, having put itself in loco parentis (in the place of a parent), has been so afraid we will lose sight of the need to do it right that it has made us care more about how we look than about who Jesus is.

The Pagan Priests of Mockingbird

The Pagan Priests of Mockingbird

Here’s one of the lists from this most recent issue of our magazine, The Deja Vu Issue, which should have arrived at your house by now. If not, well, you can remedy that now… One well-worn slogan that we’ve consistently enjoyed putting to the test is that “all truth is God’s truth.” Come to find […]

A Long Obedience in the Wrong Direction

A Long Obedience in the Wrong Direction

Author’s note: Over the past several months I’ve been asked the same question by multiple people, all in a very particular way. In the middle of a conversation, they will suddenly ask, “Who are you?” It’s not phrased in a demeaning way, but definitely with a politely confused inflection. My life doesn’t quite add up to them, and I […]