A Mockingbird Gift Guide (2014 Edition)

A Mockingbird Gift Guide (2014 Edition)

Last year’s gift guide was so popular that we’ve decided to make it an annual tradition. Apologies in advance for once again not straying too far from our books/movies/music wheelhouse.

For Those About to Host a Christmas Party: A Very Love and Mercy Christmas by Sam Bush and Kathryn Caine

For Your...

Reflections on America’s Happiest City

Reflections on America’s Happiest City

Four and a half months ago, Charlottesville, VA was named the happiest city in America. As the happiest blogger in the happiest city, I feel like I should do some commenting.

In the original paper for the happiness study, the researchers are careful to note that they’re measuring only “self-reported” happiness,...

Star Wars Reticence

Star Wars Reticence

On this site, it is hard to miss the emphasis on God’s grace and our passivity. Grace as God’s overriding disposition toward the human condition in Christ and passivity as suffering the work of an interested and loving God on His people. All of the grace, celebration, joy, redemption, and...

Bracing Ourselves for #bestchristmasever

Bracing Ourselves for #bestchristmasever

In my 32 years on the planet, I’ve had all kinds of Christmases. There was the Almost Jewish Christmas (thanks, college boyfriend), the Just Gave Birth 3 Weeks Ago Christmas (thanks, husband), and my personal favorite, the We’re too Broke to Go Home for Christmas Christmas. I’ve had many Dr....

Now Available! A MESS OF HELP: From the Crucified Soul of Rock N’ Roll by David Zahl

Now Available! A MESS OF HELP: From the Crucified Soul of Rock N’ Roll by David Zahl

In his debut book, Mockingbird founder and editor-in-chief David Zahl riffs on the intersection of music, memoir, and theology to create a fresh and colorful series of essays that truly stands alone. Constructed like an album, A Mess of Help surveys some of pop’s most eccentric icons in hopes of...

2014 Fall Conference Recordings: The Risk of Grace

2014 Fall Conference Recordings: The Risk of Grace

An enormously heartfelt thank-you to everyone who helped put on our Fall Conference in Houston, TX: our friends at St. Thomas Episcopal Church for hosting, The Magills for playing such fantastic music (click here to check out their stuff on iTunes), Mark and David Babikow for being such lifesavers on...

Latest entries


The Office: Middle Earth

As we brace ourselves for the final Hobbit film hitting screens this week, SNL produced a truly funny parody:

For more along these lines, check out Stephen Colbert’s interview with Smaug.

Joyce Manor, Father John Misty, and Other 2014 Favorites

Joyce Manor, Father John Misty, and Other 2014 Favorites

As I’ve gotten older (read: lazier), I’ve had seemingly less time to scour the internet for hours for new music.  I think I’ve consumed less and less music each year after college to the point where I always feel the need to play catch-up this time of year when websites start publishing their end of year lists and roundups. I spent a lot of time in 2014 though just trying to enjoy the albums I enjoyed again and again without the need to seek out and explore all the albums that I was “supposed to listen to” (this is not…

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PZ’s Podcast: Summer Rain

EPISODE 181: Summer Rain

It’s pathetic how little we know. And that’s not just some “secular” concession to the Uncertainty Principle. I’m talking about ourselves, about other people, and about what God is “up to” in our lives.

Not only do we not know a lot, but what we think we know is often wrong at root. At best it is partial.

I had an acute example of my colossal ignorance fall on my life recently — about ten days ago, in fact. Some old documents from college days dropped out of a book. They were primary sources about something that mattered to me. They revealed beyond a “Shadow of Doubt” (Alfred Hitchcock/Thornton Wilder) that I had mis-remembered something important, and mis-remembered it from stem to stern.

I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. (In fact I am typing this in a cave near Lake Tahoe. But you know that.) Yet I didn’t, and I won’t. Which is mainly because the 51st Psalm was also in that book. I’ve got a place to go, my knees for lack of a better term, with some damaging new info. If I didn’t have Psalm 51 (King James Version, please), well, then I really would die. I’m actually not expecting to.

This podcast is dedicated to Adrienne Parks Bowman.

Another Week Ends: Elephant Mothers, New Journalism, More Lumbersexuals, Passwords, Tauntauns and Nettles

Another Week Ends: Elephant Mothers, New Journalism, More Lumbersexuals, Passwords, Tauntauns and Nettles

It’s Christmas time, and it feels like everyone on the Internet is talking about…the Internet.

In Hard Cover!

As the debate continues about what journalism is becoming—in light of the fall of the New Republic and the retracted reporting of a certain Rolling Stone article—much of what gets talked about is money, and the kind of click-bait that tends to get corralled for the sake of it. As the age of online news matures, it seems that content is more the handmaiden to investors than public dialogue and interest.

But deeper than this, other discussions have emerged pointing to the “radical liberal”…

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My Way is a “Crap Song”: Reflections on Regret

My Way is a “Crap Song”: Reflections on Regret

Say what? I was out for a jog this week and I had to stop, take out my earbuds to squeegee out my ears with my fingers, hit rewind, and hear that again. Did Ira Glass just disparage Frank Sinatra? Ira Glass is the creator and executive producer of NPR’s weekly podcast “This American Life”. I was made privy to this can’t-miss weekly series by this Mockingbird post a while back, and I’ve been riveted every week since.

Each week’s podcast features 3 segments of real life Americana stories that are centered on a basic (and usually innocuous) theme. The December…

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Come Down to the Manger and See the Little Stranger

Come Down to the Manger and See the Little Stranger

There’s one particularly ‘seasonal’ portion of A Mess of Help, and here it is (minus the copious footnotes). Longtime readers may recognize portions, but this is the published and much-expanded version, which comes in the book’s final chapter, track nine of “Sing Mockingbird Sing: The Alpha and Omega of Annotated Playlists”. Enjoy:

I am quite proud of my office. It has taken a decade or two, but I finally feel like I’ve collected a suitable constellation of mementos to display. There’s the foldout from the ET: Picture Book record, which has Michael Jackson posing for what appears to be a school…

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When I Was an Adult I Read Books, to Remain a Child

When I Was an Adult I Read Books, to Remain a Child

The following piece was recently shared with Mockingbird. The “librarian,” whose name is not Paul Zahl (seriously!), has given us permission to post it here.

Note from the librarian: This reading diary, penned by LeVar Burton, was recently discovered in the archives of a theological library. The manuscript, handwritten on napkins and folded away inside an old volume of George Herbert’s poetry, suggests that Burton found gold at the end of the (Reading) Rainbow.

[Books are] a children’s game which God has given me in order that the time till his appearing should not be long for me.”

~ Johann Georg Hamann

 

William Hale…

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Bracing Ourselves for #bestchristmasever

Bracing Ourselves for #bestchristmasever

In my 32 years on the planet, I’ve had all kinds of Christmases. There was the Almost Jewish Christmas (thanks, college boyfriend), the Just Gave Birth 3 Weeks Ago Christmas (thanks, husband), and my personal favorite, the We’re too Broke to Go Home for Christmas Christmas. I’ve had many Dr. Phil Christmases (but, really, who hasn’t?). And there’s been a few Merry ones sprinkled in between. Every year, Christmas comes upon me with waves of the urge to do, to fix, and to reboot the season. Every year, I long to make Christmas as happy as I’m told it should…

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Living By Grace (and According to Frankenstein) – Matthew Fenlon

Watch out, here comes another session from the Houston Conference:

Living by Grace (and According to Frankenstein) – Matthew Fenlon from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

What Happened at the Debut of Handel’s Messiah

Priceless anecdote from the beginning of The Smithsonian’s rundown of “The Glorious History of Handel’s Messiah”, published in 2009, ht PNW:

George Frideric Handel’s Messiah was originally an Easter offering. It burst onto the stage of Musick Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742. The audience swelled to a record 700, as ladies had heeded pleas by management to wear dresses “without Hoops” in order to make “Room for more company.” Handel’s superstar status was not the only draw; many also came to glimpse the contralto, Susannah Cibber, then embroiled in a scandalous divorce.

The men and women in attendance sat mesmerized from the moment the tenor followed the mournful string overture with his piercing opening line: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” Soloists alternated with wave upon wave of chorus, until, near the midway point, Cibber intoned: “He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” So moved was the [Anglican clergyman] Rev. Patrick Delany that he leapt to his feet and cried out: “Woman, for this be all thy sins forgiven thee!”

When Balance Becomes a Weapon (Women, You Can Have It All!)

When Balance Becomes a Weapon (Women, You Can Have It All!)

Not often do I get the opportunity to quote my dad on matters other than Alabama football and Fox News, but lately I’ve been turning over in my head two of his favorite axioms: Life isn’t fair and Everybody just CALM DOWN!

I grew up under the constant admonition of that first phrase: the awareness that the world doesn’t always work according to the balance and order I think it should have; that even if I do the right thing it doesn’t mean everyone else will; that, ultimately, there are no guarantees. But I also grew up under the reign of…

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A Skeptic of the Transformation Enterprise

A Skeptic of the Transformation Enterprise

Good News for the weary Advent Amazon shopper. An amazing bit from Phillip Cary’s Good News for Anxious Christians, which I am unashamedly speed-reading this Advent. Consumerist? No way! Cary here is talking about the false, consumerist focus on change, and how that focus has bled into the way we think about our very souls. Rather than helping us see that our lives should not be about us, Cary says this kind of transformation-trance makes us incapable of thinking about anything but. Our attention deficit leads us perpetually into the trap of correcting the selves that Christ came to transform.

Ever…

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