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On “Omniscient” Narrators: W.C. Heinz’s “Death of a Racehorse”

On “Omniscient” Narrators: W.C. Heinz’s “Death of a Racehorse”

Sportswriters are not generally awarded the prestigious seats at writer’s guild meetings. But when the Library of America brings out a collection of your sportswriting, as they did for W.C. Heinz, the guild must make an exception. Imagine what Heinz’s reportorial eyes witnessed —  the right crosses of Rocky Marciano, the mercurial shouts of Vince Lombardi, and the sweet swing of Stan Musial (not to mention the Battle of the Bulge). Writing his best work at mid-20th century, Heinz bridged the golden era of sportswriters like Grantland Rice with the New Journalism of Tom Wolfe. His boxing novel (“The…

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Trying to Curb Your Own Series of Unfortunate Events

Trying to Curb Your Own Series of Unfortunate Events

I’m on the tail end of a nasty cold that has as one of its side effects existential nihilism. To add insult to injury, this particular bug coincided with an anniversary date of the loss of a parent. Reflecting over the 15 years since that event, a lot more bad stuff has happened. In other words, I’m getting ready to channel Richard Lewis, Curb Your Enthusiasm-style:

Richard Lewis: First of all, I’m getting old, I have that irregular heart thing and this is not a good thing, I’m a recovering alcoholic, this is all very bad for me.
Larry David: What, we’re…

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Autoimmunity and the Heart Curved Inward

Autoimmunity and the Heart Curved Inward

I am sick. That’s pretty much all I can tell you about it with any real confidence. For two years, a harvest of strange and debilitating medical maladies have continued to hurl wrenches into the functioning of my poor and puzzled body (I’ve detailed some of that elegant saga here and here). In my time not writing about being sick on Mockingbird, I slug from one doctor to the next, submit myself to pokes, prods, needles, and indelicate personal questions. Everyone agrees things aren’t right. Yet I am still without a clear diagnosis. There have been rabbit-hole-suspicions by many-a-medical professional,…

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In Defense of 2016

In Defense of 2016

This past calendar year, known by many of us as 2016, was nothing if not controversial. Populated as it was by unexpected outcomes, celebrity demises, and global tragedies, the year stands out as, at the very least, memorable. And at the very most? Well, it may be the first time I’ve heard a quartet of numbers get accused of killing people. Who knew those four digits carried around a sickle and political machinations in their back pockets?

Whether the loss of Prince and Princess (Leia) ruined your year or just amounted to a footnote in it, overall apathy about the past…

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In This Hope We Rebel: Rogue One, An Advent Story

In This Hope We Rebel: Rogue One, An Advent Story

Everybody!!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story delivers magnificently on the promise Star Wars fans have known still lurked within the franchise but struggled to manifest over the last seventeen years of films. Yes, I’m hyperventilating a little–but so will you. Rogue One is so excellent it would be easy to drown the internet in superlatives praising it but part of the excitement that accompanies it is the sheer wonder of witnessing a story that celebrates heroism and hope without resorting to the stale devices that characterize so many blockbusters. Gareth Edwards has composed an elegy to broken human beings consecrated to…

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How to be a Cow in the “Lowly Cattle Shed”

How to be a Cow in the “Lowly Cattle Shed”

“The time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).

Ever since our August move to Southern California, the Getz family has been taking names. We’ve made great friends, my husband has crushed at his job, and I have balanced part-time work and parenthood like a damn Huggies commercial. Then, in the weeks before Thanksgiving, we hit a stumbling block that completely threw us out of the rat race. Without…

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On Surviving the Holidays: Personal Suffering and the Demand of Christmas Cheer

On Surviving the Holidays: Personal Suffering and the Demand of Christmas Cheer

This one comes to us from Luke Roland.

I have always loved Christmas. This time of year is what I looked forward to for much of my life. I love everything about Christmas. Movies, decorations, music, food, Santa, gifts, and more food. My family Christmases growing up were near picture perfect. My mother and father went all out and made home a magical and fun place for my sister and me. I wouldn’t change anything about it.

This Christmas will be like no other Christmas I have ever experienced in my life. I have two children, and I’m currently going through a…

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Lazaretto, or Where Is That Moral Progress I Was Promised? – Scott Johnson

Here comes the next video from Oklahoma, and the first of the breakout sessions. This one arrives courtesy of Dr. Scott Johnson, our resident expert in classical Greek and all things White Stripes-related:

Lazaretto, or Where is that Moral Progress I was Promised? – Scott Johnson from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

The Rising Tide of #selfharmmm

The Rising Tide of #selfharmmm

One of the clear refrains I’m hearing post-election has to do with the cost of virtual communication. We are only starting to come to terms with the degree to which our current climate of divisiveness has been amplified by the limitations of the Internet. Physical remove makes it (much) easier to dehumanize another person and (much) harder to empathize with them. Or, as we put it in the tech issue of The Mockingbird:

At its best, the disembodiment [of the web] engenders safety, the permission to engage with someone or something you otherwise find threatening, e.g., a Gospel that seems too…

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A Gift Discarded in Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums”

A Gift Discarded in Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums”

Somehow, all these years later, that “dark speck” has stuck with me.

I first spotted it over 30 years ago, when I discovered John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” (available online here) in a short story class in college. I knew then that there was much more much going on in that beautiful story than I would  ever be able to divine. But I did know that I would not easily move past that “dark speck.”

Elisa Allen lives in the beautiful but cloistered Salinas Valley. As the story opens, she wears a man’s black hat pulled down low and her…

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Religious Experts vs. the Cross: On Reading the Book of Job

Religious Experts vs. the Cross: On Reading the Book of Job

In the first chapter of Fleming Rutledge’s impressive book, The Crucifixion, she explains that modern Christianity shares the same widespread rival as early Christianity: gnosticism. She doesn’t mince words bringing the dusty historical term back down to the ground: “All the various forms of gnosticism are grounded in the belief that privileged spiritual knowledge is the way of salvation.” With one swoop of the vested arm, Rutledge knocks down the pawns of self-help, educated elitism, not to mention a massive percentage of the modern-day Christian church—in short, “religion”. To cherry-pick some of her key remarks on this subject:

Defining this philosophy is no…

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Bumper Stickers and Background Screens: Reflections on Losing a Child

Bumper Stickers and Background Screens: Reflections on Losing a Child

Our bumper stickers and computer backgrounds reveal so much about us. Through the college team logo, the institution we attended, a political cause, or images of loved ones, we tell the world so much about what we love, desire, and stand for.

I have often considered what the picture displayed on my own screen represents about me:

As you see above, there is a beautiful woman with a glowing smile. (That’s my wife.) Holding her hand is a little boy with white, curly locks flowing out from beneath a fireman’s hat. (That’s my oldest child.) His firefighter’s jacket can hardly contain the…

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