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Theology Lessons from a Ghetto Star

Theology Lessons from a Ghetto Star

Another amazing one from our friend Chad Bird. 

When the phone rang at his friend’s house, Tommy Shakur Ross picked up the receiver. And into his ears fell razor-sharp words that would keep falling and falling, shredding his insides in their violent descent…

Tommy—who goes by Shakur—was a member of the L.A. gang, the Eight Trays. Raised by a minister father and church-going mother, Shakur discovered within the gang a new identity, a new culture, new aspirations. He even received a new name; he became Joker.

But despite his moniker, Joker was dead serious. He was out to earn a reputation, score points,…

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Laughing at Our Trophies

Laughing at Our Trophies

Another amazing one from Chad Bird, author of Night Driving: Notes from a Prodigal Soul. 

A few years ago I ran my first half-marathon. And won. By accident.

The northern panhandle city of Amarillo, Texas, boasts scant trees, passels of cowboys, and a handful of runners who—taking Bob Seger literally—are always “running against the wind.”

It was no exception on September 1, 2009, when I lined up with hundreds of them to run 13.1 miles in the ever-predictable 25-30 mph gusts. I was a relative newbie to the sport. Running had morphed into my healthiest anti-depressant. So with a few 5ks and 10ks under…

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Confessions of a Foodaholic

Confessions of a Foodaholic

During the summer following my junior year of college, I attended a handful of Overeaters Anonymous meetings. I was plagued with compulsive overeating, binge eating, whatever you want to call it, starting in high school, having been off and on diets since age 14, and it reached its height in college; hence the infamous rock bottom that lead me to OA. OA is based on the same principles and twelve steps as AA, simply replacing alcohol with food, and it was not until OA that I faced or even recognized the depth of my problem. Anything you associate with an…

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Stranger Things: When Angels Show Up In Cadillacs

Stranger Things: When Angels Show Up In Cadillacs

When I was in the third grade a man tried to abduct me in our neighborhood. I was walking the five houses down to my best friend’s house, a thing I did almost everyday. A man pulled his car over and began to ask me questions.

He wanted to know my name, how old I was, and where I lived. And then he paused for a moment and said, “Why don’t you take a ride with me?”

Stranger Danger and a innately suspicious personality made me say “no.”

He asked a second time if I could “just come a…

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Suburbia at the Mid-Century: Church

Suburbia at the Mid-Century: Church

Two thousand years of Jesus in our lives had a crest when The American Dream was real.

It was Mid-Century: after America rose from the fugue state of The Great Depression to wrest control of the globe from evil. The extreme, violent and costly effort changed the world – but especially America. Millions had died, were physically wounded and everyone was deeply affected. Those warriors who survived were wounded: some physically, but all were changed by a life or death struggle.

1945 saw those millions come home to create a new place – a sanitarium of peace in a new juggernaut: the…

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Did It Have to Be Jesus? ~ Nicole Cliffe

One of the more vitalizing talks from our conference in NYC came from Nicole Cliffe, who co-founded of one our favorite humor sites, The Toast (may it now rest in peace). Be ready to laugh and cry as you hear this story of how a sarcastic Harvard grad found God.

Did It Have to Be Jesus? ~ Nicole Cliffe from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Architect: Fellow and Failing ~ Duo Dickinson

Another one from the conference! This talk certainly won the “shock factor” award. From the one and only Duo Dickinson.

Architect: Fellow and Failing ~ Duo Dickinson from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

On Being Fat (and Life's Other Unavoidable Criteria)

On Being Fat (and Life’s Other Unavoidable Criteria)

I have always been fat.

From earliest memory, my mother took me to De Pinna’s “husky section” to buy fat kids’ clothing. When I was playing at 189 and 10% body fat, my BMI was close to “morbid” — and I have not been below 200 in 37 years. When I lost a third of myself 10 years ago, I was, and am, still fat.

Weight is the most obvious criterion of my life. It was once grades. It’s also money — not the love of family, God, or being “saved.” No, I prefer numbers — especially the hard ones — but my weight…

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The Mockingbird Devotional: Finding Grace and Being Found

The Mockingbird Devotional: Finding Grace and Being Found

After scrolling through my Twitter feed and seeing a prominent Christian leader post something that made me want to climb in my bed, pull my down alternative comforter over my head, and hide from the world; I tweet-confessed that remembering the gospel doesn’t undo the bad stuff. My proclamation got a couple of likes so there are at least two other people in the world who might agree that oh-remember-the-gospel-and-god-and-the-kingdom-everything-is-better-now just doesn’t work sometimes. Maybe we aren’t Christian-y enough, but using the gospel and the reality of God’s kingdom as a bandaid for all that is wrong in the world…

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An Irrational Lack of Fear…

An Irrational Lack of Fear…

Politics is becoming overwhelming. Listening to today’s endless snipes, tweets, melt-downs, and outrage filling all airwaves, I am left bemused at the bubble of now. Politicians are vengeful, reporters are angry. Commentators are in high dudgeon. It matters not what “side”; the basis is fear and loathing.

I think they are missing something.

The news is filled with perpetrators and zealots: it’s the loudest world, screaming in each instant. The breathless desperation of healthy, free, employed participants lives in a tiny place amid the immeasurable context of everything.

For me, there is a perverse joy in seeing the irrational rampaging — it’s delightfully…

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The Cure for Snakes on a Plane

The Cure for Snakes on a Plane

Last week, aboard a 747 bound from LAX to JFK, I almost stood up and asked the flight attendant to turn the plane around à la Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids, “There is a colonial woman on the wing, I saw her! THERE IS SOMETHING THEY’RE NOT TELLING US!”

In general, I am the sort of person who likes to at least appear to be in control, calm, composed, collected, and I don’t like to make a scene unless it’s a Broadway re-enactment. But on that morning, my panic had reached a fearsome boiling point of inner-hysteria, and I feared that if…

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Retreat, Not Advance (or How I Made It to New York Without a Wallet)

Retreat, Not Advance (or How I Made It to New York Without a Wallet)

A wonderful post from Connor Gwin:

“It is called a ‘retreat,’ not an ‘advance.’”

That was the advice given to me by a Brother from the Society of St. John the Evangelist before my first week-long retreat.

This is not what I wanted to hear.

Think of all the books I could read with a week of silence. Think of all the writing I could do.

You should know that I am big on plans. I make plans in my head for pretty much everything. I plan how my day will go. I plan how phone conversations will turn out. I plan the shape of…

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