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The Struggle of Dying

The Struggle of Dying

This meditation on Lent and healing prayer comes to us from our friend Laurel Marr. 

In his book, The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane tells the story of Henry Fleming, a young soldier who enlists in the army in hopes of fulfilling his dream for glory. But, a long time goes...

How Did I Get Here: Breakdowns in IKEA and Other Tales from an Average and Foreign Life

How Did I Get Here: Breakdowns in IKEA and Other Tales from an Average and Foreign Life

I’m standing in IKEA, and I am shattered.

It’s not often one has an existential crisis in the checkout lane of a Swedish furniture store in the suburbs of Sydney–I think–but it happened to me, and very recently. In the twenty minutes (that felt like an eternity) that I spent behind...

Dear Reformation, It’s Not You It’s Me: Theology We Love to Hate – Sarah Condon

Dear Reformation, It’s Not You It’s Me: Theology We Love to Hate – Sarah Condon

The first video from Tyler is here! And as you'll see, the footage fills in a number of blanks from the recording, so if you've yet to listen to the audio, definitely start here. The good Rev. Condon brought the house down - truly one for the ages (and...
2017 NYC Conference (4/27-29): New Video Invitation and Scholarships

2017 NYC Conference (4/27-29): New Video Invitation and Scholarships

With (magnificent!) Tyler behind us, it’s time to go full steam on the promotion for our big 10th Anniversary Conference in NYC which takes place the end of next month, April 27-29th. First up is our new video, which we encourage you to share to the ends of the Earth...

The Ultimate Apocalypse

The Ultimate Apocalypse

Just in time for spring, this one comes to us from our fellow survivor, Zack Verham.

“Where must we go, we who wander this wasteland, in search of our better selves?” – The First History Man (Mad Max: Fury Road)

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life,...

Love

The Title of the Show Is Love

At this point, Love is a show that can do no wrong in my eyes. I love that it moves slowly. I love that the characters have jobs, and that they seem to spend a decent amount of time there. Mostly, though, I love that no matter how low it...

The Zacchaeus Option

The Zacchaeus Option

I guess there comes a point in every couple’s life where watching TV and not showering is a more alluring prospect than long hygenic rituals followed by being social. My wife and I are binge-watching a new show called Imposters. I thought the show’s premise was implausible, almost silly at first....

The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils

The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils

They say you can trace the exact moment the Great British Public fell out of love with Morrissey to the release of his 1996 album, Southpaw Grammar. It sounds like just the sort of brazen pronouncement rock critics love to make, more of a conversation-starter than a statement of fact....

Latest entries

Defending The Shack (Sort Of)

Defending The Shack (Sort Of)

A look at the controversial film adaptation, this one comes to us from Bill Walker.

It will perhaps be no surprise to many readers here to learn that, overall, The Shack is simply not a high quality film. It has already received scathing reviews by critics, and for very understandable reasons, even if the popular viewership has been moderately receptive.

A movie like Martin Scorsese’s Silence, for example, is arguably superior to The Shack, and it’s unfortunate, in my opinion, that more people will likely see the latter than the former. But unlike Silence, and this isn’t unimportant, The Shack is a film that…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Romans Three Verse Thirty-One

This morning’s devotion was written by Paul Zahl. 

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:31, ESV)

Time and time again, Christian people stumble on this question of the Law.

The question I get, time and time (and time) again, is this one: How will I know to do right when grace and forgiveness are everything? Don’t we need a few tips, or pointers, say, from the Bible? Won’t people take advantage of grace?

That is the question you always get when you present the Gospel. You don’t get it from “non-believers,” who respond to the Gospel with incredible relief and assurance.

You get the question from “Christians,” believers for some time, who seem fearful of it, or maybe even jealous, I don’t know. “Christians” just can’t seem to understand that grace always ends up “upholding the Law” in practice. You don’t have to worry. The Holy Spirit automatically creates works of loving from prior love.

Even so, I don’t think the ministers of grace are ever going to “persuade” the Christian community that grace applies to Christians. I have failed utterly at this for well over 30 years. Outsiders love the message; insiders resist it, even hate it. Probably we just have to “let them go”—the “Christians” I mean. Something about the way the religious (sub-)culture works just makes it impossible to hear the grace word there. I’ll try to keep on going, and “I won’t… back… down” (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers). But have no illusions: You’ll never persuade the “religious.”

Better maybe just open up a hospital for these people when they crash (they always crash). Take ‘em in then, offer the Old, Old Story, and maybe then, after crashing and burning, they’ll hear it with new ears.

Another Week Ends: Anti-Self-Help Self-Help, The Disease of More, God in a Machine, Fake Nice People, Born-Again Paganism, Religious Politics, and the Mystery of Matter

Another Week Ends: Anti-Self-Help Self-Help, The Disease of More, God in a Machine, Fake Nice People, Born-Again Paganism, Religious Politics, and the Mystery of Matter

1. This week, The New York Times’ Henry Alford tackled the world of anti-self-help self-help in his piece, “I’m Not O.K. Neither Are You. Who Cares?” In it, he unpacks not only the rising tide of “anti-self-help books” but also their eye-catching common denominator: the F word. Given that word’s increasing popularity, I guess it’s no surprise that we like a good hardcover lesson in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, or The Life Changing Magic of Not [doing the same]. But, as Alford makes clear, these books are not as contrarian as they’d hope to appear. If self-help is the popular religion of the day,…

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Mama Holy Spotted At SeaWorld

Mama Holy Spotted At SeaWorld

This week, along with millions of other blue blooded, medium-hard-working Americans, my family went on Spring Break. And it was all pretty hard. This is a travel log of sorts. Loads of complaining. Some bright spots. And some dark spots when Jesus showed up.

Our kids are 2 and 6 years old. So we began every morning by ripping them away from the clutches of Disney Jr. so we could all head for the great tourist sites of San Antonio, Texas. 

We stood in line for tickets for the Tower of the Americas. Twice. The first time they…

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Love

The Title of the Show Is Love

At this point, Love is a show that can do no wrong in my eyes. I love that it moves slowly. I love that the characters have jobs, and that they seem to spend a decent amount of time there. Mostly, though, I love that no matter how low it goes—no matter how awkward it gets, no matter how many bad decisions the characters make—I know that some shade of redemption is close at hand. It is, after all, called Love.

I remember watching the first episode last year. My wife and I were looking for lighter fare, something charming. The promos…

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The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils

The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils

They say you can trace the exact moment the Great British Public fell out of love with Morrissey to the release of his 1996 album, Southpaw Grammar. It sounds like just the sort of brazen pronouncement rock critics love to make, more of a conversation-starter than a statement of fact. And yet, you can’t really argue that opening a ‘pop’ record with a 12-minute glam-rock dirge heavily sampling Shostakovich was the safest strategy for holding onto the affections of a wide audience. Which is precisely what Morrissey did with his “The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils”, an epic that…

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March Madness Preview

March Madness Preview

The NCAA tournament, that glorious spectacle that only comes but once a year, is finally upon us. Sportswriter Bob Ryan said that if the field of 68 duked it out six times, we’d have six different winners. Sounds like brackets will be busted early and often, which, in my view, makes for the most enjoyable viewing experience. Sure, Michigan State was my pick last year (sorry Hoos), but I was stoked to see Middle Tennessee State do the unthinkable and knock off Sparty in the first round. Once my dreams of a perfect bracket are shattered, usually in the first…

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I Did Not Build Me: Politics, Fragility, and the Self-Made Life

I Did Not Build Me: Politics, Fragility, and the Self-Made Life

“Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own… If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

– Barack Obama July 13, 2012

When I heard President Obama utter those words I just about lost it. Usually I view the entire freakshow of politics as an insane sidebar — but this statement, made during the 2012 presidential campaign, marked one of those moments when a candidate inadvertently got up in my kitchen. All politics is local, but in this case it got personal. For…

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“Mockingbird Turns 10” Interviews: Sarah Condon

“Mockingbird Turns 10” Interviews: Sarah Condon

This is the second installment in a series of monthly-ish interviews between myself and various Mockingbird writers and members of the Mockingbird community. These posts will explore some aspects of each individual’s personal story and some aspects of Mockingbird’s larger story and ministry as we celebrate its 10th Anniversary. My subject this time was The Rev. Sarah Condon.

Charlotte Donlon: How has your involvement with Mockingbird impacted you over the past several years?

Sarah Condon: It’s changed the kind of priest I am. I think that’s fundamental. Had I stayed in seminary on the path I was headed, I think I would’ve quit by…

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A Free Lunch: The Spiritual Economics of the Church’s Most Cliché Ministry

A Free Lunch: The Spiritual Economics of the Church’s Most Cliché Ministry

Another taste of our recent issue on Food & Drink! Order your copy here! 

The soup kitchen at my church is currently in the midst of a cold war among its volunteers. On one side we have the pro-oil-and-vinegar contingency, armed with organic produce and health concerns; on the other side, the crusaders of ranch dressing are stuck in their ways. You’ll find me standing unapologetically behind oil-and-vinegar lines, and I don’t mean to brag, but, as one of the soup kitchen’s head cooks, I make a bitchin’ salad. Fresh greens (often from a local garden), walnuts, cukes, strawberries if they’re in…

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Blind Pilot’s Biblical Paradox

Blind Pilot’s Biblical Paradox

Half album review, half theological forage, this one comes to us from Madeline D’Elia. 

Panic in the first beat of the morning
Even what I’ve got isn’t worth offering
Even faces change—my heart stays the same.

After five years of waiting for their album release, I was hooked on And Then Like Lions in the first fifteen seconds. Once again, with trumpets, banjos, guitars, ukuleles, and mountain dulcimers, Blind Pilot poetically captured the experience of being a human. But this album was markedly different content-wise because it focused on tragedy from beginning to end. Called a “darker shade of folk” by the Wall Street…

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How Low Can You Go? The Soul of the Gospel – Paul Zahl

The opening talk from Tyler is here! As as you’ll see, it was really something else:

How Low Can You Go?: The Soul of the Gospel ~ Paul Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.