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Little Sister: Good News for the Goth Family

Little Sister: Good News for the Goth Family

This spooky little treat comes to us from Caleb Stallings.

“Fail to see the tragic,
Turn it into magic!”

– Marilyn Manson

“Remember your congregation, which you acquired long ago, which you redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage.”

– Psalm 74:2, NRSV

Halloween came strangely early for me this year. By the time September was settling in, I was already halfway through Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with The Cramps’ Off the Bone constantly buzzing in the background. And as soon as October arrived, the un-carved pumpkins were placed, the paper skeletons were hung, and the ghoulish festivities were well under way. Horror was on my…

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Some Other Power At Work in Russell Brand’s Life (Inadvertently)

Great little passage from the comedian’s far from (merely) comic new book Recovery:

These are secular times. I just went to see a priest with my girlfriend to discuss getting married in his church and God wasn’t mentioned, as if doing so might cause embarrassment and I feel some of the same tension when writing. It’s not like the atheists have all the best tunes, though some people who I really admire are devout atheists, but it is the time we live in, the mechanical dome that umbrellas us from the eternal that causes me consternation. The unwillingness to open our hearts to the mystery. Even a sentence like ‘open our hearts to mystery’ makes me feel a bit queasy with its sincerity but nothing has given me a stronger sense of the great unknowable than listening to scientists, some spiritual, others not, confessing to the limitations of understanding being through material analysis.

I (like the saints and sages and prophets on my earlier list of heavyweights [Augustine, Shakespeare, MLK, Ghandi, etc] that this time I’m too shy to repeat in case it seems that I’m trying to edge myself onto the inventory of greats, which I am) feel there is some other power at work here. I feel too that in my journey to freedom from active addiction, undertaken basically for selfish reasons, I have inadvertently been connected to this power. I also believe that anyone can do it. That is what is at the heart of this book, that addiction, however severe or mild, is a sincere attempt to address a real problem, the lack of fulfillment to which the material world cannot cater. Therefore the solution to this problem is a spiritual connection. This is not my idea. (pg 231)

Am I My Brother's Keeper?

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

When I was a kid attending Sunday School in a very traditional Baptist church in the Midwest, we learned Bible stories… I became familiar with the regular cast of characters like Adam and Eve, Noah, David, Moses, etc. I could tell you that Moses parted the Red Sea; Adam and Eve ate an apple; David slew a giant (thanks to a relative who gifted me one Christmas with 12-inch David and Goliath action figures!). As a teen, I would learn that the book of Leviticus was all about how family members in the same house should not undress in the…

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Pobody’s Nerfect: On Performance Anxiety and (Not) Giving Advice from the Pulpit

With both the Reformation’s quincentennial kickoff and our DC conference mere weeks away, we’ve put our feelers out for all things smacking of the reason for the season, that “harsh doctor,” Martin Luther. Today we were pleased to find just that from our friend Phillip Cary, who is featured in the latest issue of First Things. Below I’ve re-posted a handful of memorable excerpts from his piece “Luther at 500” (ht RS):

The great pastoral aim of Luther’s doctrine of justification is to free us from the kind of performance anxiety that arises whenever our salvation depends in any way on us, our hearts, our will, or our doings. For anything we do is something about which we can ask, “Am I doing it well enough?” And for Luther the answer is always “not well enough to save you from damnation.” No act of our free will, and hence no decision of ours, is an exception to this rule…

How we have always been justified by faith alone is best seen in light of Luther’s distinction between law and Gospel. Both the law of God and the Gospel of Christ are God’s word, but the former only gives us instructions while the latter gives us Christ. For the law tells us what to do, but the Gospel tells us what Christ does. The distinction grows out of Augustine’s insistence, in his great treatise On the Spirit and the Letter, that telling us to obey the law of love does not help us do it from the depths of our hearts; only the grace of Christ can give us such a heart. Luther merely adds: The place to find the grace of Christ is in the Gospel of Christ.

A great many preachers, Protestant as well as Catholic, overlook the distinction between law and Gospel, thinking they can change people’s lives by giving them practical advice—as if telling them how to be inwardly transformed could help them do it. Augustine already knew better. Luther’s addition to Augustine’s insight is merely the glad recognition that there is indeed something preachers can do to help us be transformed: Instead of advice, they can give us Christ.

Catch more of this gospel-centered good news with Mocking-friends from all over on October 27-29 in Washington, DC. You can register for the conference here—hope to see you soon!

Jesus Has Left the Building: Architecture and Artificial Intelligence

Jesus Has Left the Building: Architecture and Artificial Intelligence

“God is in the details” is reputed to have been uttered by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe back when Mid-Century modern architecture made the idea of “expressive” details sexy to the world of architecture. Now the mention of God in architecture is a little “off” for most of my fellow architects. Like most in the over-educated 21st century “elite” demographic, my people are pretty secular, often beyond agnostic (yes, I am an architect).

The increasingly common public perception is that religious architecture can be appreciated as God-blind aesthetics, not manifesting soul-grabbing faith. In Spain the Sagrada Familia church is seen…

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Dog Is My Copilot

Dog Is My Copilot

’Tis the season for pet blessings! Churches everywhere are celebrating the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (Oct. 4), that famed lover of animals, by blessing their congregants’ furry friends. Our family are dog people, and we always bring a dog or two to the pet blessing at our church. My husband and I had dogs before we had human children, and I hope to take the advice that someone gave me to get a puppy when our children are teenagers, so that someone will be happy to see us at the end of the day. We currently have two…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Twenty-One Verses Thirty-Three Through Forty-Two

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Twenty-One Verses Thirty-Three Through Forty-Two

The following sermon was preached yesterday by our friend Dave Johnson at Christ Church in Valdosta, GA.

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are in fifth grade and whenever you are hanging out in your bedroom your radio is tuned into the local Top 40 hit station.  It is a beautiful spring evening and your window is open, an occasional cool breeze enters your room with the scent of freshly mown grass and that sense of hope that accompanies spring reawakens in your heart.  A song comes on the radio that immediately grabs your attention, immediately resonates with…

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"I hate you Dad! Oh, I mean Reverend!"

“I hate you Dad! Oh, I mean Reverend!”

An old girlfriend of mine—let’s call her the Girl from Ipanema…no, on second thought, we better not—had a type when it came to men: blond hair and blue eyes. That worked out well for me—for awhile. Then a ghost showed up—taking the form of an ill-fated previous relationship with a man who looked remarkably like me. That, children, was when I was introduced to the wonderful world of transference.

Frank Lake describes transference in his book, Clinical Theology:

The displacement of feeling from one object or person to another, and particularly the process by which the patient shifts feelings and attitudes primarily…

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Is There Any Comfort? Remembering the Reformation 500 Years Later

Is There Any Comfort? Remembering the Reformation 500 Years Later

We are now less than a month out from our upcoming conference in D.C.! Come celebrate 500 years of grace with us, October 27-29—you can register here.

With the Reformation on the brain, here is a fantastic piece written by our friend, Jonathan A. Linebaugh.

In 1519, Thomas Bilney sat in a small Cambridge college with a book in his hands. It had been two years since a German monk named Martin Luther was said to have nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg—hammer blows that were later remembered as the start of the Reformation and were rumored to have shaken…

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How to Have (Just) One God ~ Adam Morton

Don’t miss this talk from our favorite polytheist (in that amazing Cthulhu 2016 t-shirt). From our conference in NYC this past April:

How to Have (Just) One God ~ Adam Morton from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Do Not Pass Go

Do Not Pass Go

Last week my parents visited a childhood acquaintance of mine named Russell. Russell and I are close in age, and his late mom and my mom were great friends. But that’s where most of our similarities end. Russell is disabled and has lived his whole life in a wheelchair. As a kid, I remember that Russell’s forearms were prodigious, and he could easily crack the knuckles of my puny hand when he shook it. Yet his world was so much smaller than mine, and his temper could sometimes get the best of him, and I was not the most…

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All Alone in a Disenchanted Universe

All Alone in a Disenchanted Universe

Did anyone actually see Miss Sloane in theaters? I remember seeing a trailer for it some moon cycles ago, but never did hear much buzz about it. That is, until last weekend, when, after some coaxing from my sister, I watched it on Amazon.

In any case, you don’t have to see the movie to know, essentially, who Miss Sloane is. You’ve likely encountered her “type” before, whether in movies or daily life. She’s a ruthless fast-talker, wicked-smart, but terribly lonely. The kind of person some would call a strong, independent woman and others would call an obsessive-compulsive conniver. A notorious…

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